Don’t expect a better year, NLC warns workers

• Painted gloomy picture of the nation's economy

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Wednesday, painted a gloomy picture of that nation’s economy and warned Nigerian workers not to expect a better year due to the challenge of the current economic problem.

The congress largely blamed the current government and its predecessors for the poor state of the economy, as successive governments have failed to add values to the nation’s resources but rather exporting jobs meant for Nigerians.

Addressing the National Executive Council meeting of the congress in Abuja, on Wednesday, President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said, “the failure of successive governments and also this current government to revamp our domestic refineries have brought us to this cul-de-sac.”

Comrade Wabba, who is also the President of International Trade Union Congress (ITUC), said: “While we look ahead to a better year for Nigerian workers, the current economic indicators point otherwise.”

He added, “As earlier submitted, the prices of crude oil in the international market which should be an advantage for Nigeria has become a major disadvantage as the government insists that workers and citizens must pay higher for imported refined petroleum products and pay dearly for electricity services consumed in the country. Furthermore, the insistence of our government on using the so-called Import Parity Prices to calculate the landing cost of petrol and other refined petroleum products has made matters worse.”

Wabba pointed out that government has reneged on its promise on the issue of continuous increases in prices of petrol or hiked electricity tariff, adding that against their agreement, the government has gone ahead to increase the pump price of fuel.

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The NLC President said, “The Nigerian economy continues to go through the challenge imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic especially as a result of the near-global lockdown of economic and social activities. It has been predicted that the national economy would make some rebound as the production spaces all over the world open up and as demands for goods and services increase.

“For Nigeria, the story is a tale of mixed fortunes. While the increase in the demand for crude oil has occasioned higher prices in the international commodities market, the appreciable swell in the coffers of government translates to very piercing pain for citizens.

“Comrades, you may recall our historical struggle against incessant increases in the prices of petrol – a struggle that has spanned decades. In the last quarter of last year, precisely September 28, we resolved to embark on a nationwide strike if the government failed to halt the trend of consistent hike in the price of petrol and other essential public utilities.

“That same September 28, 2020, the government agreed to set up a technical committee to examine the root challenges in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sub-sector and the electricity sector. The government also agreed to our demand to suspend further increases in petrol price and hike in electricity tariff at least until the committee on downstream petroleum subsector and electricity submits their report.”

He stated further, “leaders of our movement, as we all know, the government has reneged on this promise more than once. Relying on your mandate, we had engaged the government each time they went contrary to our agreement and increased the prices of petrol or hiked electricity tariff. We had successfully forced the hands of government on those occasions to reverse, suspend or reduce the pains they had brought upon Nigerians.”

He pointed out that they cannot discuss issues of workers welfare, Labour and industrial relations; even issues of pension and gratuities without looking at how these have fair.

He added: “It is really a challenging period because we cannot discuss an economy outside the variables that make up a strong economy. One, our production haven been below expectation because it is like we are a country that depends more on importation than actually adding value to the resources that we have to create jobs. So we have been exporting our jobs.

“Largely, the mainstay of our economy, Agriculture and Petroleum resources we have not been able to add any value. What has happened is that we have been exporting those commodities. We are also aware that our inflation is on the increase and as we speak today, inflation is over 15 per cent, and I think that is very conservative. In real term, when you go to the market you know the real and actual value of inflation.

“So, clearly the economy has not been able to do well, that is why unemployment and high cost of goods and services have eroded the purchasing power of many Nigerians. Many Nigerians, more than 20 million have also been driven into extreme poverty.

“This is the outlook of the challenge we are having at our hands. We know those that have affected most are the workers that depend on fix wages. This is the picture that we will have to confront.”




Don’t expect a better year, NLC warns workers

Don’t expect a better year, NLC warns workers

Don’t expect a better year, NLC warns workers

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