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TUC Now fighting NLC for walking out meeting with FG, and FG impose ‘no-work-no-pay’ rule against workers who join the NLC strike.

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress on
Tuesday walked out of the meeting held with the
representatives of the Federal Government, vowing to
go ahead with its scheduled nationwide strike on
Wednesday (today).
Representatives of the Trade Union Congress, who also
attended the meeting, however, said the TUC would not
join the strike.
NLC President, Aliyu Wabba, led the labour delegation
while the Secretary to the Government of the
Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, led the Federal
Government delegation at the talks held in the SGF’s
office in Abuja on Tuesday night.
After the meeting, Lawal said, “The National Industrial
Court has given an injunction that no strike by NLC and
TUC should hold tomorrow (Wednesday). It is therefore
clear that anyone embarking on strike tomorrow
(Wednesday) is doing so illegally and government is
assuring all Nigerians to come out and do their jobs
tomorrow (Wednesday).
“It the duty of government to provide security for her
citizens and anyone who tries to coerce any worker to
do their bidding would be made to face the law of the
land. We had full cooperation with the Trade Union
Congress of Nigeria and they said they are not going on
strike. For them, it is a complete return to work
tomorrow (Wednesday). It is not the same with the NLC
however. They have two factions, one agreed
completely with the position of the TUC.”
Briefing journalists, Wabba said his team arrived at its
decision to proceed on strike following the inability of
the Federal Government to meet up with its demand to
revert to the N86.50K old pump price of fuel.
Officials of NLC, who pleaded not to be named, said
they were angered by the decision of the Federal
Government to proceed to court, despite existing
negotiation which was at the instance of the
government.
The Joe Ajaero faction of the NLC had initially on
Tuesday said it would not join the strike while the
National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers as
well as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior
Association of Nigeria had last week also dissociated the
associations from the strike.
The action of the NLC followed the failure of the parties
to resolve the dispute over the increase of the pump
price of petroleum by the Federal Government from
N86.50 to N145 per litre.
But the Federal Government has threatened to apply
the ‘no-work-no-pay’ rule against workers who join the
NLC strike.
The SGF, Babachir Lawal, in a statement on Tuesday,
directed all ministers, permanent secretaries and heads
of government agencies to invoke the provision of rule
against errant workers.
Lawal advised civil servants to shun the exercise in
their own interest, which, he said, was called by the
NLC despite a ruling of the National Industrial Court,
which restrained labour from going on strike on
Wednesday.
The SGF added, “This notice is regrettably given in
spite of an order by the industrial court against the
strike. Government, therefore, calls upon and advises
all workers to respect the laws of the land and to desist
from participating in an illegal action.
“Government undertakes to guarantee the safety of
workers and their workplaces, and expects that normal
work will continue in the interest of the nation.
Accordingly, security agencies have been directed to
ensure unimpeded access to offices, workplaces and
markets.
“Accordingly, all ministers, permanent secretaries and
heads of government agencies are hereby directed to
invoke the provision of ‘no work no pay’ in respect of
any staff member who absents himself or herself from
work to join the strike.”
“Attendance registers are required to be opened in all
Ministries, Departments and Agencies.”
There were indications on Tuesday that organised
labour would defy the ruling of the National Industrial
Court on the strike called to protest the fuel price
increase.
While the Nigeria Labour Congress said it was not
aware of the court order stopping the strike, the Trade
Union Congress flayed the Federal Government for
obtaining it.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson,
in an interview with one of our correspondents on
Tuesday, said, “I am not aware of any court injunction.
As far as I am concerned, I am not aware of any court
injunction.”
The President of the TUC, Mr. Bala Kaigama, in an
interview with The PUNCH, described the action of the
Federal Government in heading for the National
Industrial Court as panicky.
“That is what we are going to the meeting to find out.
Who instituted that? So, we would find out if it is going
to stop our negotiations. They are doing it through
panic. I think they are scared.
“We have not been served. Can you talk of what you
have not seen?” he asked.
The NIC had, in its ruling on Tuesday, stopped the TUC
and the NLC from embarking on their planned strike
scheduled to start on Wednesday.
But earlier on Tuesday, the NLC held an emergency
National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, where it
decided to go ahead with the strike.
At the meeting, the congress insisted that the Federal
Government must reverse the increase in the pump
price of fuel from N86 and N86.50k to N145.
NLC, TUC divided over strike, negotiation
It was also learnt that the NLC might dump the TUC in
carrying out the strike.
A top official of the congress told one of our
correspondents that the NLC was embittered by what it
described as the “lukewarm posture” of the TUC in
enforcing the joint decision of the two labour centres.
It was gathered that the NLC leaders were angered by
the presentation of the TUC President, Bobo Kaigama,
who they said talked about minimum wage and other
palliatives contrary to the position of the two centres to
prevail of the government to reverse the increase.
The source added, “Look, the TUC has backed out of
the protest. The government has succeeded in using
the TUC and the other faction to divide labour.
“Didn’t you see how the President of the TUC spoke
during the meeting with the government team? He did
not dwell on our mission, he went there to talk about
palliatives and the General Secretary of the NLC
challenged him there.”
But Kaigama said it was not true that the TUC had
backed out of the planned action.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, he said
it would not be proper to talk of backing out when there
were ongoing talks with the government.
NLC faction insists on negotiation
Also, the factional President of the NLC, Mr. Joe Ajaero,
advocated sustained negotiations with the government,
saying the N145 increase would inflict a lot of hardship
on the citizenry.
“We have not gone into negotiation, they briefed us
and we responded. That is not negotiation.
‘‘We have made our positions known to them but they
have equally lined up what they called palliatives,
including N500bn provision for social investment. They
have equally agreed to reconstitute the board of the
PPPRA, and then minimum wage,” Ajaero stated.
DSS invites Ajaero
Meanwhile, Ajaero, on Tuesday, said he had received
invitation from the Department of State Services.
The labour leader said though, he did not know why he
was summoned, he would appear at the DSS office
before going for the meeting with the Federal
Government at the Office of the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation.
NIC stops strike
Earlier on Tuesday, the NIC stopped the NLC and the
TUC from embarking on their planned strike over the
increase in fuel price by the Federal Government.
Justice Babatunde Adejumo gave the restraining order
after the Attorney General of the Federation and
Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, argued an ex
parte application in which the prayer for the order was
contained.
Justice Adejumo ruled, “The defendants are hereby
restrained from carrying out the threat contained in
their communique issued on May 14, 2016 pending the
hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed
on May 16.
“It is the order of this court that the status quo be
maintained as of May 17.”
The order, being an interim one will last for seven days,
although it is subject to renewal.
The judge also ordered that the processes in the case
be served on the respondents within 24 hours and that
proof of service be filed in the court.
The judge transferred the hearing of the substantive
case to another judge of the court on the grounds that
he would be engaged at the National Judicial Council
when the matter would be deemed for hearing.
He also said that he granted the order to make sure
that people were not subjected to avoidable hardship.
He said, “I decided to take this case this morning
because it is on an issue that will affect everybody. I
don’t want people to be subjected to hardship. There
will be scarcity of foods, people may die, students will
engage in all sorts of activities. This is why I have to
grant this order.”
Malami, while moving the ex parte application, said it
was in the national interest to stop the NLC from
shutting down the nation over last week’s increase in
the price of fuel.
But the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties
condemned what it called the hurried judgment
secured by the Federal Government to stop the mass
action against fuel price increase.
The organisation therefore called on the masses to
ignore the court judgment and continue with the
protest.
The CNPP, in a statement on Tuesday, by its national
Chairman, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, and Secretary-General,
Chief Willy Ezugwu, also accused both the Federal
Government and the labour unions of insincerity on the
matter.
The CNPP said, “We reiterate our call on all well-
meaning Nigerians and civil society to ignore the labour
unions and protest against the unjustifiable pump price
increment in their numbers.”
Reps, labour meeting ends in a deadlock
Despite the court order, however, a meeting between a
committee of the House of Representatives and the
Ayuba Wabba-led NLC on the fuel price increase ended
in a deadlock on Tuesday evening.
The committee, which was chaired by the Chief Whip of
the House, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, met with the
leaders behind closed doors for about 35 minutes at the
National Assembly.
Findings showed that the union leaders listened to the
appeals of the lawmakers but said the issue was
beyond them.
“They merely assured the committee that they would
report to the enlarged meeting of the union to decide
the way forward,” a committee source told The PUNCH
at about 7.30pm.
Ado-Doguwa confirmed that they met with the leaders
but that they did not make a precise commitment to
shelve the strike.
The Chief Whip added, “Not precisely, but they have
given us favourable listening ears and have promised to
convey our plea to their constituents to get their
mandate on any possible re-consideration.’’
Fuel hike, consequence of corruption, says
Osinbajo
But Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said on Tuesday that
the fuel hike could be traced to the scarcity of dollars
occasioned by the depletion of the nation’s foreign
reserves.
The Vice-President said this at the presentation of a
book, ‘Anatomy of Corruption in Nigeria’, which was
authored by a legal luminary, Yusuf Ali (SAN), in Abuja.
Osinbajo added that it was corruption that made it
impossible for Nigeria to build or maintain refineries
over the years, which had forced the nation to be
import-dependent.
He said, “If you have no foreign currency, you have to
import fuel. All of our refined petrol today is imported. A
lot of problems with the refineries are corruption-related
issues. If we repair our refineries today, we will still only
be able to refine 40 per cent of our petroleum products;
so, we still need to import.
“But the truth is that in the absence of foreign
exchange, when you have to import your refined
petroleum, what are you left with? I think it is important
that when we look at corruption and its deleterious
consequences, we must relate it directly to what we are
experiencing all the time.”
Osinbajo said President Muhammadu Buhari fought
against increasing pump price for several months but
had to finally bow to pressure due to the economic
realities.
He said the nation’s foreign reserves currently stood at
about $27bn.
Osinbajo added, “All through the period when Nigeria
was earning over a $100 to $115 per barrel from the
proceeds of oil for a period of almost five years, the
external reserves of Nigeria remained much the same. It
did not increase at all despite the very high earnings.
“We know also that today, we are investigating cases
which show that over $15bn was lost in one type of
contract alone. We are not talking of oil contracts but
security related contracts. We haven’t talked at all
about the several billions in the oil contracts.’’
Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud
Mohammed, praised the anti-corruption efforts of the
Buhari administration.
He, however, said it was unfortunate that many lawyers
had sacrificed professionalism for money.
Mohammed, who was represented by Justice Musa
Muhammad, also advised prosecutors to devise more
intelligent methods to handle financial crime if they
were to succeed.
Senate, Umar, group back Buhari, demand
palliatives
In the same vein, the Senate, on Tuesday, expressed
support for the increase in fuel price but asked the
Federal Government to immediately commence the
implementation of palliative measures to cushion the
effects on Nigerians.
The Upper Chamber’s decision was contained in the
resolution read at the end of a 65-minute executive
session on the fuel price increase by the Deputy Senate
President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the
plenary.
Ekweremadu said, “That we sympathise with ordinary
Nigerians on the hardships they are going through, the
Senate will engage the Federal Government to find
sustainable ways of improving the welfare of the people
of Nigeria.
“That government should immediately stand
implementing palliatives or palliative measures
contained in the 2016 Appropriation Act passed by the
National Assembly.”
However, the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on
Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce,
while briefing journalists after plenary, advocated an
effective mass transit system to regulate the cost of
transport.
He said rather than procuring vehicles for the transport
union members, government should provide them with
subsidy to ensure that the cost of transport before the
deregulation was maintained after the exercise.
Also, the Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations in
Nigeria has thrown its weight behind the Federal
Government on the recent increase in the pump price of
petrol.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the
Chairman of the forum, Mr. Wole Badmus, said
deregulation of the downstream oil and gas industry
would help the government to eradicate fuel scarcity
and ensure constant fuel supply across the country.
In a related development, a former military governor of
Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (retd.), has
expressed support for the deregulation of the
downstream oil sector by the Federal Government.
The former governor, in a statement on Monday
evening in Kaduna, said the deregulation of the
downstream oil sector by the All Progressives Congress-
led government of President Muhammadu Buhari was a
welcome development.
Umar, who is also the Chairman of a group, Movement
for Unity and Progress, described the Federal
Government’s action as a “needful policy” which his
group fully supported.
Umar said, “We, however, expect those opposed to the
policy to justify their disagreement by providing better
options, supported by facts and figures, failing which
we remain resolute in supporting government’s
decision.”
But the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities described
the increase in petrol price as a classical example of
government carelessness, insensitivity and state effort
to inflict pain and uncommon hardship on the poor and
Nigerians with disabilities in particular.
The CCD, in a statement by its Executive Director, Mr.
David Anyaele, called on Buhari to return the pump
price of petrol to N86.50k per litre.

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