A potential surge in the cost of Premium Motor Spirit, commonly known as petrol, looms ahead, with oil marketers suggesting that the price could escalate to somewhere between N680/litre and N720/litre in the coming weeks. This projected increase is contingent upon the fluctuation of the dollar, which currently hovers between N910 and N950 on the parallel market.
In response to these concerns, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has issued a stern warning. If there is another hike in fuel prices without the completion of ongoing negotiations and the implementation of necessary alleviation measures, the NLC threatens to initiate an immediate nationwide strike action against the Federal Government. The NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, conveyed this ultimatum during the ongoing African Alliance of Trade Unions meeting in Abuja.
Ajaero conveyed the NLC’s position in relation to the Registrar of Trade Unions’ advice on the conduct of labor responsibilities in safeguarding workers’ interests and, by extension, those of Nigerians. He appealed to the government to rectify “detrimental economic policies that render our wages nearly insignificant.”
While addressing the government’s contemplation of raising petroleum product prices, Ajaero emphasized that the labor force would not provide advance notice for a strike. He stressed that unless the repercussions of the last two fuel price increases are addressed, another sudden hike would be met with immediate protest.
Ajaero further articulated, “We implore the government to rectify these harmful economic policies that have eroded the value of our wages. If we tackle the root causes of inflation and currency devaluation, we can find stability in our current situation. If the naira was on par with the dollar today, a minimum wage of 30,000 would suffice.”
He went on to explain, “By eliminating inflation, we could maintain the status quo. However, inflation is rampant, and official statistics confirm that over 133 million Nigerians are experiencing multidimensional poverty. These are the pressing issues the government needs to address. If we were to demand a wage increase now, the ensuing inflation would erode its value.”
Additionally, Ajaero criticized the Nigerian police for encroaching on the Ministry of Labour’s responsibilities, particularly in matters concerning union disputes. He asserted that this was beyond the police’s jurisdiction and highlighted the need for proper education on the matter. Ajaero also expressed concern over the unwarranted arrest of the president of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, demanding an apology from the Inspector General of Police and affirming that such actions must not be repeated.
He urged the police to understand their boundaries and respect the roles of relevant government bodies. Ajaero expressed the NLC’s willingness to cooperate, engage, and collaborate with the police, as long as they remain within their legal limits.