Strike: Labour urges FG to obey subsisting court judgement against fuel hike

• Insists no valid court injunction against strike

The leadership of the House of Representatives on Sunday intensified efforts to avert the much-touted nationwide strike by the organized labour who insisted of going ahead as there was a subsisting court judgement against any hike in the pump price of fuel by the Federal Government

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila held a crucial meeting with a three-man team from labour consisting of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Quadri Olaleye and the Secretary-General of the NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja.

At the opening session, while the NLC President canvassed reasons why the impending strike was inevitable in the overall interest of Nigerians the Speaker, however, cited reasons the strike should not go on in the interest of the nation.

According to Rep Gbajabiamila, who was accompanied to the meeting by the chairman of the House Committee on Labour, Rep. Mohammed Wudil and the Deputy Leader of the House, Rep. Peter Akpatason, “shutting down nation’s economic activities through a debilitating strike will hurt more citizens the organised labour is seeking to protect.”

He said that there could be a different way to arrive at the same result as the legislature and labour are both on the same page and pleaded for more time.

Immediately after the meeting, the Speaker and his team headed straight to the Presidential Villa, Ask Rock Abuja for further consultations with the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

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Emerging from the meeting, the President of the NLC, Comrade Wabba said that the labour leaders had useful deliberations with the Speaker and his team but that had not changed the decision of the union to continue with the nationwide strike.

According to him, “we have had useful discussions with the leadership of the House of Representatives. We have shared our concern and challenges with him, especially the very challenges of the implication of if the hike in the tariff of electricity and the pump price. We also briefed him how the discussion with the Federal Government went and how the meeting was adjourned.

“He has also promised to try to intervene at his own level, to see that we don’t inflict more pains on Nigerians. And in the course of the discussion, we have also realised that the House of Reps has done a lot on this issue including a recommendation to the government which we have shared mutually.

“But the bottom line is that we want this burden that has now been shifted to Nigerians as consumers also be lifted so that we can have a decent life.”

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On the court injunction stopping the strike, he said, “which injunction? Are you not aware also that there is a court judgement stopping the tariff? This is a valid judgement from the High Court stopping the tariff increase and that judgement is still subsisting,

“Are you not aware of that? And on the issue or the court judgment, we have not been served as I said, because, in good faith, you’ll recall that we were on the negotiation table up till late Thursday night, we are in a democracy, we should follow the principles of the rules of law.

“And therefore, our expectation is that we should be able to in good faith continue to dialogue, not to try to ambush because we have not received the order as of today and we don’t know the details of any order. Clearly speaking, we cannot speak on something that is not before us.

“The reality is that on the issue of electricity tariff, we have a court judgement and not court order, that has nullified the increase in tariff and therefore, we believe that the rule of law must always prevail. And in this case, also, we want the right thing to be done.”

When asked about the position of the labour if or not the strike will continue, Comrade Wabba said, “if the issues are not addressed, you’re aware that we’ve given notice, and that notice will certainly expire by tomorrow and all the actions we have pronounced will certainly take effect.”

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