Leaders of labour unions in Nigeria have accused the Federal Government of insincerity in its engagement on the issues around petrol price increase.
The leaders, who stormed out of a meeting with a Federal Government delegation in Abuja on Sunday night, said the recent hike in the price of petrol to N170 per litre, had undermined the position of labour.
They insisted the Federal Government must return the pump price to what it was at their last negotiation.
The meeting, which ended chaotic fashion, had the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; and Minister of State Power, Goddy Jeddi Agba, in attendance.
Effort by the government delegation to persuade the labour leaders to listen to their presentation failed as they left in anger.
The General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Emma Ugbaja, told journalists that there was a serious disagreement on the order of the meeting’s agenda.
“We have had some understanding over time, but while these meetings were ongoing, we were suddenly slapped with a new increase in petroleum price and we felt that was beyond what we had as an understanding with the government.
“And we felt that should be the first item for understanding today. But surprisingly the government team felt otherwise, they felt the issue of imaginary palliatives should be discussed before what is causing the need for the palliatives should be discussed.
“And we felt that was putting the cart before the horse. We want to address the issue on petroleum pricing before we begin to think whether there is need for palliatives or not and on that strength we felt we cannot continue with a meeting whose agenda is wrongly prioritized.
“When the Government is willing to take it the way it is, we are ever ready to engage and to have things properly determined.”
He explained that the leaders will consult with their members to decide on next action to take.
“We have to go back to our organs to agree on the way forward, because we have leadership, we are known and clearly with that position we have to tell our members what the situation is”, he added.
On his part, the Trade Union Congress, TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye accused the government of putting their lives and safety at risk.
He explained that the labour leaders cannot walk freely on the roads because workers accused them that they had betrayed their trust.
Speaking to journalists, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige played down the situation, saying the labour leaders wanted to go and discuss with their organs.