Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Federal Government has said that its talks with organized labour has yielded fruits.
Government said the two sides were almost reaching agreement on the issue of implementation of deregulation while outstanding issues raised by the movement regarding electricity tariff were to be addressed at the ongoing meeting.
At the opening of the meeting Sunday night, TUC president. Comrade Quadiri Olaleye, alleged that federal government had sponsored groups to institute legal action and to demonstrate against labour’s planned strike on Monday. Also NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, expressed dismay at the resort to legal action by government to try to scuttle labour’s protest, insisting that labour has not received any cour5 injunction.
Wabba said there was a Supreme Court judgement that guaranteed freedom of workers to protest without hindrance. He also said that labour had a subsisting court judgement declaring the increase in electricity tariff illegal.
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting with the two labour centres, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Sunday night, Secretary to the Government of Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the issues that necessitated the engagement with organized labour were almost being addressed.
“When we met last week Thursday, we had a very robust discussion. We had very good insights into issues that necessitated Minister of Labour, to engage with the organized labour as to navigating through the agitating issues.
” I believe strongly that we have resolved virtually everything that was on the table in the area of deregulation of downstream sector of the oil and gas and the increase in the pump price.
” With regards to power, there are still outstanding issues that were raised by labour as to the conflicting information they had regarding electricity tariff as it applies in different areas and DISCOs. It was at the stage that there should be some kind of validation. It was at this stage that the meeting adjourned’, he said.
He said that the issue that was outstanding was had to do with the process of validation of the electricity tariff. Mustapha urged the meeting to focus only on outstanding issues so that discussion can be concluded quickly.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige while welcoming labour representatives to the talks said that the emergency meeting was necessitated because of developments at the weekend where some civil society group served government and labour with an injunction against the strike.
But TUC president in his submission, accused federal government of sponsoring groups to institute legal action and anti labour protest against the organized labour.
He said: “We are already negotiating with the government, it was totally wrong for government to head to court to get an injunction. As at now, we have not been served with that injunction, so I am not aware.
“And also it was wrong for government to have sponsored people to protest at the Unity Fountain that the labour movement should not go on strike. It was very wrong for government, if another person had sponsored that it would have been right than the government because we actually got the information that it was sponsored by government. Labour is not afraid to go to court to challenge the injunction obtained by government but we have not been served,”..