The organised labour on Tuesday rejected the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, as the head of the Federal Government’s team that will negotiate with the labour unions on subsidy removal palliatives.
The National President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Joe Ajaero, made this known when the leadership of the labour unions visited the Senate.
According to him, the Chief of Staff has been too busy to call for a meeting adding that President Bola Tinubu’s wage award committee has yet to sit almost two months after the fuel subsidy removal.
The labour leaders were in the Senate to meeting with the leadership.
The Senate in a resolution two weeks ago agreed to meet with the labour unions on the subsidy removal palliative.
Ajaero said, “Part of our challenge is the issue of the committee put in place, the committee seems not to be capable, as labour union, we have done negotiation and engagement with the government, from the time of the Secretary to the General of the Federation under ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, Ufot Ekaette, during BabaGana Kingibe, Pius Ayim and Boss Mustapha.
“At no time had the Chief of Staff to the President who is very busy called to negotiate or lead negotiations.
“And that has delayed the issues, even since after our protest; another meeting has not reconvened, although the president promised that he will restructure the mechanism of engagement with government to help things to be treated fast.”
Ajaero added, “We had agreed on wage award, and up till this moment the committee on wage award is yet to sit, “
The NLC President while speaking during the meeting with Senate leadership lamented the plight of Nigerians as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy.
He said the government had yet to put structures on the ground to ameliorate the effect in the country.
He told the lawmakers that while labour leaders were still deliberating on N537 per litre of fuel and Court had ruled for the status quo to remain, the government suddenly decided to increase the fuel to N620 per litre.
NLC president stated, “Nothing is yet to happen on the issue of $800m projected to be borrowed, we have not perfected the list of the people who will benefit from it.
Similarly, his colleague, the Trade Union Congress President, Festus Usifo, lamented the snail-speed with which the Federal Government was treating the issue of the palliative.
The TUC president lamented, “The government said they will create alternatives and palliatives, it’s over two months, and there is no sense of urgency.
“3,000 buses are too small, If the government has saved one trillion in two months why can’t the government channel this money to tackle these alternatives.
Similarly, after the closed-door session, the TUC president, Usifo noted that the Senate leadership had assured them of meeting with the president and getting problems solved in a few days time.
Usifo said, “At the meeting, we put our agenda forward and those things we said to them the last time we came here.
“The Senate has promised to take up the issue with the president. What we want is action and we believe that in a few days, that would be answered. There was no ultimatum given to the Senate. “
In his response, President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, appreciated the organised labour for their patience and understanding to assist the government.
He said, “The president told you that he had saved N1tn in two months but did not tell you the fact that he inherited over N30tn which is running into more when you put together both the local and foreign debts.
“Even when you save money and there is a lot of debt on ground, you’d realise that the money would not be able to take care of so much.”
Akpabio assured the aggrieved Labour Union of partnership and approach the Executive to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians.
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