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No more strike as Labour, FG reach agreement over electricity tariffs, fuel price

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AFTER hours of meeting on Sunday night into early hours of Monday between representatives of the Federal Government and labour, the strike called by the organised labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) has been suspended.

The suspension followed an agreement between Labour and Government sides that deregulation of the downstream oil sector stays while the Government take steps to roll out palliatives for labour within two weeks.

They all came to a compromise at the meeting which held at the presidential villa, Abuja where they resolved that electricity tariffs be suspended by the government for two weeks while a joint committee headed by Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment,  is set up to examine the justification for the new policy.

To this end, all parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the over-dependence on the importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce the cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.

The parties agreed that the NNPC is expected to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50 per cent completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee.

Moreover, while the deregulation policy stays, the government is to ensure commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise.

According to the terms of the agreement, the management of NNPC will integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.

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It stated that a validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be established to monitor the progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the Steering Committee periodically.

After rehabilitation, the agreement said the NNPC would involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the nation’s refineries.

“The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, the involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing a framework for financing in the downstream sector,” it said.

“NNPC will expedite work on the Build Operate and Transfer framework for the nations pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of Petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.”

They also agreed that the Federal Government and its agencies are to ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel.

A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organized Labour shall be established for timely delivery, the agreement said.

Other intervention which culminated in the suspension of the strike was an agreement was to cushion the impacts of the downstream sector deregulation and tariffs adjustment in the power sector, where the Federal Government will implement the following:

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“A specific amount to be unveiled by the FGN in two weeks time will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund and be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting.

“Federal Government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.

“Federal Government will make available to organized labour 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses immediately and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis thereafter to all States and Local Governments before December 2021.

“Housing: 10 per cent be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC.

“Consequently, the NLC and TUC agreed to suspend the planned industrial action,” a joint communique issued after the meeting stated.

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