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Hike in fuel price, electricity tariff: Court bars NLC, TUC from strike

FG, Labour parley ends in deadlock

The National Industrial Court has granted an interim injunction restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), their officers, af-filiates and privies from embarking on any strike or stoppage of work from Monday, September 28. The order was sequel to an ex-parte application filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association through their counsel, Sunusi Musa. Ruling on the application, yesterday, the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Galadima held that the order was pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

The court also granted an order of interim injunction restraining the unions,their officers, affiliates, privies from disrupting, restraining, picketing or preventing the workers or its affiliates or ordinary Nigerians from accessing their offices to carry out their legitimate duties on September 28 or any other date.

The court also granted an order compelling the Inspector-General of Police and the Director General, Department of State Services (DSS) to provide protection for workers engaged in their legitimate duties from any form of harassment, intimidation and bullying by the officers, agents or privies of the unions pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

The NLC and TUC have joined forces to shut down economic activities in Nigeria on September 28, should the Federal Government refuse to reverse the recent increase in the pump price of petrol and hike in electricity tariff. Meanwhile, the meeting between the Federal Government, organised labour and civil societies over the increase in fuel price and electricity tariff, once again ended without a logical conclusion on Thursday night. All parties were meeting for the second time to find a common ground on the recent increases in electricity tariff and fuel price, which has continued to raise an uproar in the country. Speaking to newsmen after about another six hours of exhaustive deliberations in a closed door meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed that the meeting has been further adjourned to Monday, September 28, to allow all parties commune with their members over issues raised at the meeting. Recall that organised labour has threatened to cripple the economy on same September 28, should the Federal Government fails to revert the price of fuel and electricity tariff.

Ngige, who appealed to the unions to shelve the planned strike, said some progresses were made, adding that both sides had agreed certain palliatives should be put in place to cushion the harsh effect of the increases on the citizenry. His words: “Fruitful meeting. They are going back to their organs. When they consult their organs tomorrow, next tomorrow maybe they will take a new decision.

“We have requested them to shelve the strike. We have appealed to them to shelve the strike. The government side agreed on some proposals with them on the palliatives to cushion the effect of the rise in petroleum products and electricity.

“The meeting agreed to adjourn to Monday, 3p.m. We had a fruitful discussion.” However, President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who only said “meeting adjourned,” refused to throw more light on the discussions held and labour’s next plan of action, given that the next meeting has been adjourned to same day with its scheduled nationwide strike. Earlier, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, has insisted that the decisions of the Federal Government in increasing the price of fuel and electricity tariff, were taken in the interest of Nigerians. Mustapha made this position known yesterday in Abuja, during a meeting between government, organised labour and civil societies, to find a common ground on the recent increases in electricity tariff and fuel, which has continued to cause uproar in the country.

The meeting was also expected by many, including labour, to end on a positive note in order to avert a total shut down of the nation’s economy come September 28 as threatened by organised labour, should government fail to revert the price of fuel and electricity tariff.

The SGF maintained that the decision, though perceived as harsh, was never intended to cause great pain or erode the wellbeing of the citizenry. His words: “The president has said that no government’s decision is intended to cause any pain or harm. Decisions that have been taken are in utmost interest to all people and working class. “…Five years down the line, that decision has become imperative and cannot be avoided; it is a decision that must have been painfully considered.

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