Nigerian Workers’ Union Suspends Strike

The planned industrial action by organised labour in Nigeria has been called off. The strike action was planned for today, Monday 28 September 20020. But last meeting discussion and agreement between the unions and the Nigerian government led to its suspension for two weeks to monitor the implementation of what has been agreed on.

The meeting leading up to the agreement started at about 8.30pm on Sunday and ended at 2.50am on Monday morning. A five-page communique has been agree on and signed by the representatives of the union and government.

Main agreements are reversal of the new electricity tariff to examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DISCOs and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate; examine and advise government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the 6 million meters, among others.

Also, the government agreed to give out palliatives to workers to ameliorate the sufferings being experienced as a result of the increase in the cost of electricity and the subsequent hike in the selling price of petrol.

These palliatives will cover things like transportation, power supply, housing, agriculture and humanitarian support.

The Breakdown.

The government will make available to organized labour 133 gas power buses. The CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses will be deployed to the major cities across the Country on a scale up basis thereafter to all States and Local to enable delivery of cheaper transportation before December 2021. Exact date of commencement was not stated.

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The meeting also resolved that the 40% stake of government in the DISCO and the stake of workers should be reflected in the composition of the DISCO’s boards. An all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatization MoU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with labour represented.

Another major agreement is the rehabilitation of national assets by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. These are the four refineries. That is, NNPC should hasten the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna to achieve 50% next year December, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive steering committee.

NNPC to expedite work on the Build, Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.

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To improve supply of refined petroleum products in Nigeria, the government assured that it will improve local refining capacity. This will be done by improving the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing framework for financing in the downstream sector.

A governance structure that will include representatives of organized labour shall be established for timely delivery.

On its part the government representatives agreed to ease the negative impacts of the deregulation of the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil industry and the increase in cost of electricity supply, to announce in two weeks a specific amount to be accessed by workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the Central Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting. Possibly in two weeks.

The meeting further resolved that the government remove of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable. No timeline was given for this to be implemented.

No mention was made of the fact that the Nigerian government has not implemented the new minimum wage across the three tiers of government. This was agree on with labour before the end of the first tenure of President Muhammad Buhari. July 2019, a timetable was announced the federal government. Many states had complained of not being able to pay. That agigation was before COVID-19. So what is the fate of the Nigerian worker in the era of COVID-19?

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The agreement was signed by a team from the government and organized labour. The government team had, the ministers of labour, Information and Secretary to the government. Also present were the deputy labour and petroleum ministers.

Organised labour had the heads Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and several others.

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