The National Working Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress has restated its opposition to the removal of the fuel subsidy in the country.
The President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, who read the communique of an emergency meeting of the NWC in Abuja on Tuesday, said that the congress also rejected the new tariff regime for electricity and the reintroduction of toll gates in the country.
Wabba stated also that the congress decided that the minimum wage was due for review and would soon commence the process for the emergence of a new minimum wage.
He said that it would be wrong for the government to transfer the brunt of the mismanagement of subsidy to Nigerians.
He said that the government must give the requisite attention to develop the nation’s capacity to refine crude oil which would give Nigerians the opportunity to even pay lower than the current pump price.
He said, “Two issues have been on the table; one was the outright removal of the subsidy and the other, the move to increase the price of petroleum products and you know the position of the congress on these has not changed.
“We are also saying that we should also benefit from the falling prices of crude oil.
“We must think out of the box: why must we be importing. If we are not importing, we should be paying lower.
“We call on the government to look at the report of the NLC in 2010; it would not be proper to transfer the brunt of the subsidy issue to Nigerians.
“It is the decision of the CWC that we must first develop the capacity to refine crude oil in the country before talking about the issue of the subsidy.
“We should not continue to import products for domestic use. Nigerians must not be made to bear the brunt of the falling price of crude oil and the difference in the exchange rate.”
Speaking on the issue of the increase in the electricity tariff, Wabba said that incessant increase in the tariff was unacceptable to the congress.
He said that the decision of the NWC to reject the new tariff would be conveyed to the National Executive Committee for workers to be mobilised against it.
He called on the Federal Government to cancel the entire process of the privatisation of the power sector, as it had not been able to achieve its objectives.
Wabba also called for the provision of prepaid meters to all electricity consumers as a way of stopping the issue of estimated billing in the country.
“This position of the government is worrisome. The increase is incessant. This is the fourth time they are increasing the tariff. I have seen their template and it is designed to increase the tariff every year.
“The regime of estimated bill should be brought to an end. NLC demands that the entire process of privatisation should be reviewed because the objective of the exercise has not been achieved. Government must ensure that prepaid meters are made available to the consumers,” Wabba said.
On the raging issue of the moves by some governors to reduce the minimum wage, Wabba said that the Act was part of the nation’s constitution which could not be violated by the governors.
He added that violators of the Minimum Wage Act would be violating the constitution and should be sanctioned.
He also condemned the delay in the payment of workers’ salaries in some states and urged the workers to get prepared to engage the governors.
Commenting on the government’s plan to reintroduce the toll gates in the country, he said that the congress was dismayed by the move as the toll gates had been used in the past to settle a few individuals.
He said that they were dismantled with public funds because they failed to realise the objective for setting them up.