Nigerian Labor Union Vows Strike Will Take Place as Planned
James Butty, VOA News
17 May 2016
Nigerian labor and civil society groups say their strike planned for Wednesday against a hike in fuel prices will go on as scheduled.
The Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had called for an indefinite strike unless the price of gasoline was reduced from 145 naira or 73 cents per gallon to 86.50 naira or 43 cents per gallon.
The government said it recommended the increases to end shortages caused by a foreign exchange crisis. The government announced Monday it had scheduled talks with the union on the issue.
But Abiodun Aremu, secretary general of the labor and civil society coalition of Nigeria, says the government must first rescind the act imposing the fuel price hike before any talks will take place.
“With respect to the current strike, the issues are really two. We are demanding the reversal of the fuel act from 145 back to 86 naira 50. We are also demanding the reversal of the electricity act that was done on February first 2016. There is no way that any discussion now with the government will affect the strike except there is a reversal because the government did not consult with us before it unilaterally impose the act,” he said.
Aremu accused the government of engaging in a campaign of misinformation.
“What happened is that after the government made an overture to labor and the labor leadership insisted that they must formalize their invitation to meet with them. The position of the NLC, TUC and the civil society on this matter is clear. For any meaningful discussions on those reversals, the government must reverse first because we were never consulted before that unilateral imposition,” Aremu said.
He said the labor and civil society coalition will hold a news conference Tuesday to make known their plan of action for Wednesday’s strike.
Analysts say any industrial action would exacerbate economic pressures in the Nigerian economy caused by the global slump in crude prices, which has drastically cut revenue from oil sales.
The government said it increased the price of gasoline and deregulated the fuel import market to try to end shortages caused by the foreign exchange crisis.
Aremu said the Nigerian government has used deregulation to enrich the few rich classes in Nigeria and punish the poor.
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