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Why NLC Labour Leaders Walked Out On Federal Govt Negotiations On Subsidy Palliatives

Nigeria organised labour, on Friday, walked out of a scheduled meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on subsidy palliatives at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Joe Ajaero, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had led his delegation to the Chief of Staff’s office, venue of the meeting, but were soon on their way out of the villa.

The Steering Committee had met with the government delegation on Wednesday where the two parties agreed to reconvene on Friday to get brief from the three subcommittees set up to look into various demands.

The committee was constituted by the government to come up with palliatives that would cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal on the workers.

But the meeting could not proceed because according to some members of the Steering Committee, there was no quorum.

The labour union accused the federal government of using the meetings as a pretext to deceive Nigerians.

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A source at the meeting confirmed that three subcommittees, the Mass Transit, the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Cash transfer subcommittees, were supposed to be present to brief the Steering Committee on the measures put in place to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on the workers.

But labour claimed that government officials, who are members the subcommittees were nowhere to be found.

The member of the Steering Committee from labour who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “They are not prepared for the meeting. That’s the truth. The government representatives had insisted that the meeting should proceed even though no quorum was formed.

“They are using cover to deceive Nigerians. There are supposed to be three subcommittees, mass transit subcommittee, the CNG, and the cash transfer, to brief us, the steering committee but government was not prepared for the meeting.

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“In their introductory remarks they made excuses and they wanted the meeting to continue, the meeting did not form a quorum. We are a people that operate on the basis of process. So, if there’s no quorum in a meeting what do you do? You will adjourn for lack of quorum.

“There was nobody to meet with. The Chief of Staff was not there, they are taking us children.”

It was, however, gathered that the Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, had earlier waited for the labour delegation with other members of the team at his Conference Hall.

He later stepped out to attend to other official matters within the Villa while other members of the government team were waiting for the organised labour to arrive

The representatives of the organised labour from the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) were said to have been delayed at the State House entrance gate otherwise known as Mopol gate for clearance.

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Information had it that the names of the labour delegation were not sent to the gate for clearance which led to their delay for the meeting.

One of the leaders of the labour delegation had told journalists, “We were detained at the gate.”

The botched meeting would have been the fourth on the series of meetings they have held since the implementation of the petroleum subsidy removal.

It was a continuation of the previous meetings over the initial increase of the pump price of petroleum to N520 per litre.

The organised labour has already scheduled a nationwide protest for August 2 to press home their demands over the petroleum subsidy removal.

The last meeting of the steering committee held last Wednesday but government representatives were unable to convince the labour leaders to shelve their plan for the action.

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