The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on Thursday night, requested that the organized labour should give it one week to consult on the reversal of the increase in pump price of petrol.
This is as the National Administrative Council, NAC, of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, will meet on Friday to have a holistic look at the ongoing negotiations with the government.
The organised labour at the meeting with the government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, demanded an immediate reversal of the last increase of fuel price.
Recall that the organized labour had walked out of the meeting with government representatives last week over the same issue, even though the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had said that there was nothing like walk-out at the meeting, but a normal recess.
At the resumed meeting on Thursday night which entered into early hours of Friday, the NNPC requested for one week to make consultations on the labours insistence for the reversal of the new fuel price increment before discussions could continue.
It was agreed by both the labour and government team that the meeting should be adjourned and to resume on December 7.
Speaking to Vanguard, the Deputy President of the NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero said that it was believed that on December 7 when the parties will continue with the negotiation, the reversal must have been effected.
According to him, “We took one-week adjournment for them to reverse it (fuel increment) for us to begin discussions because the GMD (Group Managing Director) was saying that he can’t just announce it there, that he needs to do consultations.
“Exactly one week will be next week Friday so the following Monday we will reconvene by 5 pm. We insisted on 2 pm, the Minister said 7 pm but we eventually agreed by 5 pm.
“We insisted on reversal for any other talk to place although we have agreed to brief our organs, the NLC NAC is meeting today (Friday) so we are briefing our NAC, we may have to delay other organs after that Monday if they didn’t announce it.
“That’s why we said we don’t need to be shouting strike strike, we need to put our house in order,.”
Asked if the management of NNPC consented to labour’s demand for reversal of the fuel increase, he said, “The NNPC GMD asked for the one week, we had wanted it to be announced there.”
At the meeting on Thursday night, President of the NLC Comrade Ayuba Wabba was absent, making it the second consecutive times he was not present at the meeting.
Wabba was absent on the Sunday meeting where the labour team comprising the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC walked out of government in protest of government team’s refusal to reverse the fuel price before the commencement of discussions.
The reason for his absence was not disclosed by his colleagues as at few minutes before 9:00pm when the meeting began.
Before the Thursday night dialogue went behind-closed-doors, the TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye had warned government’s delegation to be sincere with the deliberations to avoid further embarrassment and another deadlocked meeting.
He said, “It will be beneficial when we can agree and disagree constructively on some of the things we have on the table, and have a clear communication even which a layman will understand where we are going. We don’t want this meeting of going front and back every time that is so confusing that we don’t even understand what we are discussing.
“We are here today with an open mind. And if possible, we need to have a lot of recess today but the bottom line is that we must be leaving here today with an agreement”, Olaleye said.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige had in his opening remarks alleged that “agents of darkness had predicted that the meeting will not hold.”
He also said that “it was not really true that anybody walked out on anybody.”
But the Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Ajaero, who stood in for Wabba countered, “We didn’t adjourn peacefully and we didn’t take recess normally.”