The organised labour has demanded the removal of the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, as the head of the Federal Government’s team that will negotiate with the labour unions on subsidy removal palliatives.
The National President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, disclosed this when the leadership of the labour unions visited the Senate.
He said Gbajabiamila has been too busy to call for a meeting, adding that President Bola Tinubu’s wage award committee has yet to sit almost two months after the fuel subsidy removal.
The leaders of both the Senate Labour met on Tuesday at the Senate at the instance of the Federal lawmakers who sort to intervene in the FG-labour imbroglio over the withdrawal of fuel subsidy and the attendant hardships that ensued.
Ajaero said, “Part of our challenge is the issue of the committee put in place, the committee seems not to be capable, as labour union, we have done negotiation and engagement with the government, from the time of the Secretary to the General of the Federation under ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, Ufot Ekaette, during BabaGana Kingibe, Pius Ayim and Boss Mustapha.
“At no time had the Chief of Staff to the President who is very busy called to negotiate or lead negotiations.
“And that has delayed the issues, even since after our protest; another meeting has not reconvened, although the president promised that he will restructure the mechanism of engagement with government to help things to be treated fast.”
He said both teams had agreed on wage award, adding that up till this moment the committee on wage award has ñot sat.
Ajaero lamented to the Senate leadership the plight of Nigerians due to the removal of fuel subsidy, saying the government did not put structures that would cushion the effect in the country.
He told the lawmakers that while labour leaders were still deliberating on N537 per litre of fuel and Court had ruled for the status quo to remain, the government suddenly increased the price to N620 per litre.
According to Ajaero , “Nothing is yet to happen on the $800m projected to be borrowed, we have not perfected the list of the people who will benefit from it.”
The President of the Trade Union Congress President, Festus Usifo, accused the Federal Government of snail-speed in providing palliative.
The TUC president lamented, “The government said they will create alternatives and palliatives, it’s over two months, and there is no sense of urgency.”
He said 3,000 buses would not be enough, If the government has saved one trillion in two months why can’t the government channel this money to tackle these alternatives.
Usifo told the Senate leadership of a meeting with the president and getting problems solved in a few days time, adding that “At the meeting, we put our agenda forward and those things we said to them the last time we came here.
“The Senate has promised to take up the issue with the president. What we want is action and we believe that in a few days, that would be answered. There was no ultimatum given to the Senate. “
The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, praised the organised labour for their patience and understanding to assist the government.
He said, “The president told you that he had saved N1tn in two months but did not that tell you the fact that he inherited over N30tn which is running into more when you put together both the local and foreign debts.
“Even when you save money and there is a lot of debt on ground, you’d realise that the money would not be able to take care of so much.”
Akpabio told the aggrieved Labour Union that they would approach and partner with the Executive to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians.