Leaders of the two labour unions in the country, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Sunday staged a walk out of a meeting with the Federal Government as both sides disagreed on the modalities for the discussion over the issues of the recent hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as Petrol from N160 per litre to N170 and the vexed issue of increase in Electricity tariff.
The meeting on Sunday at the Presidential Villa had hardly started at about 8:30 Pm when labour leaders accused the Government of showing insincerity by increasing the pump of petrol while discussions where still going over the last increase.
Speaking to reporters after the union leaders staged a work out, NLC General Secretary, Okechukwu Ugboaja, said: ” the challenge we have is that we came here for a meeting with Government and as you are aware that we have been having meetings over two key issues-petroleum price increase and Electricity tarrif.
” We have had some understanding overtime, but while these meetings were still ongoing, we were suddenly slapped with a new increase in Petroleum price and we felt that was beyond what we had as understanding with Government and we felt that should be the first item for discussion today.
“But surprisingly, the Government team felt otherwise and felt that the issue of imaginary palliatives should be discussed before what is causing the need for the palliatives and we felt that was putting the cart before the horse.
“We want to address the issue of petroleum price before we begin to think about whether there is need for palliatives or not. On that strength we felt we could not continue with a meeting whose agenda was wrongly priotised.
Ugboaja said further that the labour unions will go back to their various organs and agree on the way forward.
BusinessDay however, gathered on Sunday that the labour movement will put the strike option on the table and threatened not to have further discussion with the Government until they reverse the price of petrol to N160 per litre.
Also speaking, the TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, said “we have seen the insincerity of Government. They are taking us for a ride and we cannot continue like this.” He added that both sides were in the process of trying to resolve the issues raised only for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC to announce a new price increase, which he said was illegal.
Also speaking after the botched meeting, Minister of Labor and Employment Chris Ngige, said the labour leaders wanted the item of petrol pump price to be discussed before any other issue and when that was not forthcoming, they demanded for recess.
The Minister however, said the union leaders will be invited again for further talks in the next 24 hours.