imageRising from a joint meeting between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their civil society allies in Abuja, yesterday, Labour called on Nigerians to stock up on essential commodities, as it begins a strike action on Wednesday in protest of recent hike in the pump price of petrol.

“Nigerians are advised to stock sufficient food items that will last for a while, for the prosecution of the current struggle against neo-liberal agenda in the country,” said NLC President, Ayuba Wabba.

Labour declared that if by the end of office hours on Tuesday, government had not invited it for negotiations, it would shut down the country.

It accused the government of prioritising the interests of petrol marketers above that of other Nigerians. It particularly flayed President Muhammadu Buhari for reneging on campaign promises that he would not remove fuel subsidy.

It added that the price hike from N86.50 to N145, which represents 67.63 per cent increase, is the height of insensitivity and impunity, as there had been no previous consultation with stakeholders, especially the organised labour.

There are also indications that the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) may also join in the action.

The two unions, last week, had voiced support for the price hike.

Wabba said modalities have been finalised to begin talks with NUPENG and PENGASSAN.

In attendance at yesterday’s meeting, the President of PENGASSAN, Olabode Johnson, blamed the incoming strike on non-passage on the Petroleum Industry Bill.

Confirming that PENGASSAN will also press the battle, he, however, expressed doubt if NUPENG, headed by Igwe Achese, will be willing to work with the NLC, considering the fact that Achese belongs to the camp of Joe Ajaero, who had declared himself a factional leader of the NLC after last year’s delegates’ conference.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said the price hike is influenced by the need to reposition the economy and foster national prosperity.

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