The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria on Monday has given the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the recent increase in electricity tariff and the price of petrol.
The union gave the ultimatum in a letter to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), signed by its President, Mr Quadri Olaleye, and the Secretary-General, Mr Musa Lawal with the date September 14, 2020 and titled, ‘We cannot bear the burden any longer, issuance of seven days ultimatum.
The TUC gave the Federal Government 24 hours following its meeting with the TUC and the Nigeria Labour Congress. The meeting was convened by government to explain the financial condition of the country and the reasons for the increase in the electricity tariff and the fuel price.
The Federal Government two weeks ago had increased the ex-depot price (the price at which government sells petrol to marketers) of petrol from N 138.62 to N147.67, prompting marketers to adjust their petrol prices between N158 and N162 from N148 to N150 in August.
The hike came at a time when electricity distribution companies decided to increase their tariff.
The Federal Government defending its action said the sharp drop in its revenues could not sustain the subsidy regime but labour leaders and civil rights groups said government was insensitive saying the decision was taken at a time when other countries were introducing measures aimed at mitigating hardship caused by COVID-19 lockdown.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities also said the Federal Government had surrendered the growth and development of the country to the International Monetary Bank and the World Bank.
The National President of the union, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, on Monday said the Federal Government should prepare for more crises as people’s anger against the government would worsen as a result of hunger in the land.
Ogunyemi said those running “Nigeria today do not love Nigerians,” but relied on the advice of some “outside forces.”
The president of union further said the government did not have any respect for Nigerians.
“If we are to operate in a country where our votes count, they will think twice before they ignore trade unions’ demands. They will think twice before they rubbish agreements and memoranda.”
Ogunyemi stated that the government found it difficult to respect agreements it willingly signed with trade union leaders and cautioning the government on its over-reliance on external agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank.
“You will agree with me that there is hardly any worker that can boast of meaningful existence with his or her honest income. And if government is ready to take some fundamental steps to redirect the growth and development of Nigeria, if government will continue to surrender the growth and development of this country to external agencies such as the IMF and World Bank, then government should be prepared for more crises because the people will become angrier when they are hungry and that is what they are beginning to see. There will be more of labour unrest.”
Ogunyemi stressed that despite ASUU’s constant negotiations and agreements with the government, it had never paid attention to the university education system.
“From the perspective of our union, we believe that government has neglected the education sector for too long, particularly the university education sub-system. As much as we have been trying to keep government on track, by reaching agreements, signing memoranda with government, government has been unfaithful.
“Successive governments in Nigeria have been setting aside our collective bargaining agreements. Just as it is happening to ASUU, we know it is happening to other trade unions. What should be done is to draw out government very clearly. How do they see trade union agreements? Are they just for the sake of placating labour leaders when they come up with issues the same way they deceived Nigeria with manifestoes which they set aside immediately they came to power?
“Or is it because they have some other forces outside Nigeria that are making them disrespect collective bargaining agreements to set aside every agreement they sign with trade unions.” Ogunyemi added.