Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday said it will convene meeting with its relevant agencies and Ministries over the recent threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, that government should revert back to old prices of fuel and electricity tariff.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige drop the hint when Vanguard sought the reaction of the government to the threat by the organized labour.
Recall that the Trade Union Congress, TUC, had recently issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to reverse the increase in petroleum pump price as well as the new electricity tariff or be ready to contend with labour.
As the ultimatum was yet to expire, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, at its Central Working Committee, CWC, meeting on Wednesday at the labour house Abuja, gave the government September 28 deadline to revert to the old fuel price and electricity tariff if not they will paralyze the economy.
The Federal Government and the leadership of the organized labour had met on Tuesday at the instance of the government to look at the financial position of the country following the threat by the labour to embark on strike over the recent increases in petrol and electricity tariff.
The meeting on Tuesday which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari did not resolve any of the contentious issues and it was adjourned sine die after talking for about 10 hours.
Speaking with Vanguard on the recent threat by the NLC, Senator Ngige said, “We will react appropriately. I have not seen the letter. In fact, I have not seen the TUC letter which they claimed they wrote to Mr. President.
“But NLC has informed me that they are sending me a letter, so their letter is being awaited, but the government will respond through the appropriate mechanism that is allowed in labour dispute.
“But as you know, this is not a pure labour dispute even though the main actors are labour people, we will react accordingly. The affected ministries and government agencies will meet as soon as possible and after that, government position will be known.”
Asked how soon it would take the government to meet and react to the labour threat, the Labour Minister said,” I don’t know. Like I told you earlier, their letter I have not seen it to know the content and what they are demanding. I don’t know whether it is a complete reversion back to old prices or the old rate in electricity.
“In petroleum, if you are reverting back, which one do we revert to, is it the N145 when PPPRA was fixing prices or is it N120 or N125 which was gotten by deregulation so till I see the letter I will then know what to present to government side because we will convene government side as soon as possible to deal with it.”
Also asked whether the NLC contravened any Labour law in their demands, Ngige said, “Till I see the letter we will know whether they issued us the normal mandatory notice, those on essential services 21 days, normal services 15 days, we will look at it holistically.”