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|How Labour Suspended Strike Against Tariff, Fuel Price In 2016 Without Success by Shehuyinka: 6:17pm On Sep 30, 2020|
NIGERIANS who were disappointed after the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) called off a planned industrial action which was meant to force the government to reverse the hike in fuel pump price and electricity tariff should not have expected much in the first place, as the development mirrored the manner in which labour capitulated in a similar situation in 2016.
Also, it appeared that, in accepting the deregulation-influenced hike in the cost of petrol, labour betrayed the vow it made, while suspending the 2016 strike, to always “rise and stand with the people” whenever the government raises the fuel pump price.
Back in May 2016, labour embarked on a nationwide strike after the President Muhammadu Buhari administration jerked up the fuel pump price from N86 to N145.
The strike crippled economic activities across the country, and with labour refusing to shift grounds, the government unleashed security agents on the protesters, leading to the intimidation, harassment, arrest and detention of some labour members, especially in Ebonyi State.
However, after four days, labour suddenly called off the strike after its National Executive Council (NEC) met at Bolton White Hotels, in Abuja, on Sunday, May 22.
Interestingly, in the communique it issued to call off the 2016 strike, labour described the exercise as a ‘success’, even though, at the end of the day, the government had its way and Nigerians started paying N145 for a litre of petrol.
The 2016 communique, signed by Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, and Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, who was at the tine the General Secretary, read in part, “After an exhaustive deliberation, NEC noted its protest action was informed by the twin issues of the unjustified and illegal hike in electricity tariff and increase in the pump price of petroleum products. NEC adjudged the protest action to be a success in spite of both internal and external challenges.
“NEC reiterated the correctness of its position on the twin issues of electricity tariff hike and astronomical increase in the pump price of PMS and the hardship they portend for Nigerian masses.
“NEC also acknowledged that the temptation to compare the strike action to that of 2012 could be compelling but that the scenario had changed as both the actors and the terrain were different.”
The communique went ahead to suggest that, even as they were embarking on the industrial action in 2016, the labour leaders never expected the strike to succeed in forcing the government to reverse the highly unpopular decisions.
In what appeared to be a curious mixture of admission of its latent ineffectiveness and self-praise, the communique said, ”NEC said before it had embarked on the action, it had anticipated a probable outcome and therefore was not surprised by government’s negative response. Nonetheless, it felt fulfilled by having the presence of mind and courage to identify its mission and fulfilling it, stressing that if a similar situation arises again, it will still rise and stand with the people.”
However, four years later, it seems labour jettisoned the part about ‘standing with the people’ after it accepted deregulation, without bothering to make good its threat to go on strike over the matter, at Sunday’s nocturnal meeting with the representatives of the government.
Even though the 2016 strike ultimately failed to achieve its objectives, the communique issued by the NLC NEC to announce that it has been called off “commended those who took part in the action in one way or the other”.
READ MORE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/flashback-how-labour-suspended-strike-against-tariff-fuel-pump-price-in-2016-without-success/
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