……as workers insist on return to statuesque, say no consensus reached
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The meeting between the Federal Government representatives and Organised Labour meant to address the announcement of new petroleum prices at the Presidential villa ended in deadlock.
While the spokesperson on government side and a director in the defunct Tinubu- Shetimma Campaign Organization, Dele Alake said there was a robust discussion with everyone speaking with one voice as regards the impact of the new price regime of petroleum products on the Nigerian, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress (TUC), counterpart, Festus Osifo, insisted that no consensus was reached and that government must return to statuque and continue with the dialogue.
Organised Labour said the meeting will reconvene after they have briefed their bosses (workers) at a yet to be determined time.
Alake said: “We have been deliberating on finding very amicable resolutions to the issue at hand, to the queue and all of that and the increase in pump price.
“We had a very robust engagement. We cross-fertilized ideas, ideas flew from all sides and there is one thing that is remarkable even from the Labour side, and that is Nigeria. We are all looking at the peace, progress and stability of Nigeria. That is what is paramount.
“Of course the NNPCL GCEO, Mr Kyari, is here, we cannot go into details now because the talks are still ongoing. We cannot finish everything at one setting, so we have adjourned now, we are continuing the talks at a later date very shortly. But the point is that the talks are ongoing and it’s always better for all sides to keep talking with a view to arriving at a very amicable resolution that will be in the longer term interest for all Nigerians. That is as much as we can say now.”
Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”
He faulted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.
He said the price increase puts the labour unions in a difficult position
on the negational table.
“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint.
“The prayers of the NLC is that we go back to statusquo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.
“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.
The President of TUC said the unions will go and consult with their members before deciding on the next meeting with government.
Osifo said: “If you listen to the president during the inauguration at eagles square, he said one of the hallmark of this administration is going to be dialogue, is going to be consultation, that they are not going to lord it over us. I trying to paraphrase what he said, that he is not going to be a dictator. And what has happened in terms of day has not shown what was written in his address.
“So, all we said before now was that we ought to have sat down, have this conversation before anything could have happened.
We have been open to conversations, we started it in 2020 upto 2021, upto part of 2022. But at the end of the day, they told us that they were not removing subsidy.
“So, there was no conversation whatsoever, so for over a year, there wasn’t formal engagements and formal meetings. Abs because there wasn’t formal engagements and formal meetings that why we found ourselves in this. If we have met before now, we would have proposed a lot of things. We have experts in our midsts who could have proffered some solutions, even the CNG how it could have been done faster. Because our own is, how do we protect the Nigerian people and the workforce.
“So, it’s not about grandstanding but it’s about how do we protect the workforce. Clearly, we have stated in our meeting today let statuesque ante remains, while we go back and have conversations with our principal, because the workers are our principal then we will reconvene for for their discussion. But we hope that they will revert to statuesque ante.”
The representatives of government consisted
of Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, and former governor of Edo State, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachallon Daju; and one time president of NLC, Adams Oshiomhole, among others.
The meeting held at the Conference Hall, of the Chief of Staff to the President.