The Trade Union Congress (TUC) Sunday asked the Federal Government to revert to the old petrol pump price of N194 per litre while negotiations continue over the recent increase of between N488 and N557 per litre occasioned by the removal of subsidy.
The TUC also asked the government to increase the minimum wage to cushion the effect of the petrol subsidy removal.
The demands were made at the reconvened meeting with the government, held at the State House in Abuja Sunday evening.
The TUC also demanded tax holidays for categories of people as well as revert to the status quo as negotiations continue.
The spokesman for the government’s delegation to the meeting, Dele Alake, told reporters after the meeting that most of the demands “are not impracticable” and would be presented to President Bola Tinubu whose decisions will be reverted to labour leaders at another negotiation fixed for Tuesday.
He said the labour’s demand that the petrol price be reversed pending the conclusion of negotiations, Alake said that decision would likely be taken tomorrow when both sides meet.
Although the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress was absent at the meeting, Alake said negotiations would continue with all labour unions and stakeholders.
“But those demands we can announce to Nigerians that a lot of the items on the list are not impracticable. What we need to do is to study the numbers very well. Then, we have asked the TUC to also give us a leeway to consult very exhaustively and reconvene on Tuesday to actually look at the numbers, viability, and practicability of all the items that have been presented to us.”
He said Tinubu would likely constitute a tripartite committee that would include the states, the labour and the private sector to study all the dynamics of a wage increase in percentages, the numbers and the categories that will be affected.
Asked if the team was also negotiating with the NLC, Alake said, “No. We are not. But we are making efforts to reach NLC. We all agreed that we are going to meet here but again, in this game there are dynamics. Sometimes, they could be meeting with their own executives and not able to meet with us, or they could want to postpone or they have not actually articulated their list of demands as the TUC.
“But we cannot second guess why they are not here. But efforts are being made to reach them, we are not isolating them at all.”
He said the meeting did not discuss the claim by one of Tinubu’s spokesmen, Bayo Onanuga’s claim that the NLC was working for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
TUC President, Festus Osifo, said some progress had been made with the negotiations, so the union would brief its members ahead of tomorrow’s meeting.
“As will recall that we were all here on Wednesday last week and at the meeting, the government gave us their position and told us the reason why they did what they did, but on our part, we did not agree with them. So they presented some of the things they considered as palliatives to us, that we should consider them in the meeting, but we told them no, that we cannot consider them in that meeting, that we’re going back to call our respective organs.
“So we went back, called the NEC of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria on Friday and during the NEC meeting, the NEC of TUC decided that because we already told the government as of Wednesday that we’re taking their demands back, we want to go and look at them because they asked us for our demands, we said we didn’t have the mandate to discuss the mandates as at then. So we went back, we called our meetings on Friday, we had extensive deliberations and our NEC now mandated us with some lists of demands, to come and meet with the government side today (yesterday). So in the meeting we just concluded, we have detailed and marshalled out the list of our demands to them.
“They also in turn told us that when they presented the items to us on Wednesday we told them that we were going back to our principals, so they also need to touch base with Mr President so that we’ll reconvene this meeting again on Tuesday.”
“Topmost in our demands was clearly stated, that for utmost good faith and in the interest of social dialogue, they should revert to the old pump price while discussions continue.
“Yes, we have presented the list of our demands to them and they received it in good faith that they will go back to their principal and come back to us on Tuesday.
“So we’re hopeful that the demands that we have presented will be reviewed in the best interest of Nigerian workers and the entire Nigerian masses.
“The demands are so long, they are so many, part of it is the demand for a (review) of the minimum wage and we stated that for us, quite apt is that the minimum today is not a living wage, as we all know. The value of the minimum wage since it was negotiated, has plummeted to a very abysmal level, as it is today.
“Because they are going back to Mr President, we also think that we should also give them that benefit of the doubt because the things we presented to them the last time, they did not also reveal it before the press so it is also quite apt for them to go back, maybe when we meet on Tuesday, we can dissect them one after the other and be much more specific.”
On whether Nigerians will not misinterpret NLC’s absence to mean they are not on the same page, Osifo said, “It’s your function as the press to also help us educate Nigerians to make them understand that when you call organ meetings that the decisions of the organs is what the leadership are bound to push through and to implement.”