THE Senator-elect for Edo-North Senatorial District of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, has said demands presented by Nigerian labour unions over the removal of fuel subsidy are legitimate.
According to him, subsidy removal by the President Bola Tinubu administration has Broughton hardship on Nigerians due to the rise in the cost of living.
Oshiomhole, who is a former NLC leader, and former governor of Edo State, said this while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, on Sunday, June 4.
The ICIR had on June 2, reported that NLC is set to commence a nationwide strike on Wednesday, June 7, if the Federal Government fails to reverse the hike in the fuel pump price.
According to the NLC President Joe Ajaero, the decision to embark on strike was prompted by the pains Nigerians are going through following the increase in the cost of petrol, otherwise known as premium motor spirit (PMS), after the Federal Government removed subsidy for the product.
“The NLC NEC directs all state councils and industrial unions to commence mobilisation from this moment,” Ajaero added while addressing journalists after the meeting.
This development followed the declaration that ‘subsidy is gone’ by Tinubu.
The declaration has led to widespread economic repercussions, with petrol prices rising at filling stations across the nation.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) also raised concerns over the removal of fuel subsidy by Tinubu, calling for caution in the implementation of the decision.
TUC demanded ample time for these discussions and engagements, to ensure that all concerns and questions were addressed before proceeding while also stressing that Nigerian workers and the masses should not bear the brunt of the inefficiencies of successive governments.
Speaking on the TUC and NLC reactions, Oshiomhole said a lot of demands by the two unions are ‘doable and viable.’
“The Trade Union Congress (TUC) came up with a list of specific demands which they will want the government to address. I believe that a lot of those demands are doable, are viable and they make a lot of sense.
“The government in return agreed to look at this comprehensively and revert back on Tuesday (June 6) with a view to finding a common solution,” he said.
According to Oshiomhole, the current administration is ready to increase the minimum wage but insisted that it must be done in line with the money available to the government.
He said, “When you withdraw subsidy, you try to make some savings. The fact of that savings means the cost of PMS is going to go up and therefore those who operate commercial vehicles or own private vehicles will have to pay more. Passengers will have to pay more to return from work, farmers will have to pay more to go to the market to sell their farm produce and also pay more to return back home.
“In a sense, there is no question that removing the subsidy means some level of increase in the cost of living beyond the cost of transportation. It will cascade to every aspect of life.
“Labour is opposed to the removal of subsidy because of the consequential increase in the cost of living. And now that you have done it, then you have to deal with the other side of it which is adjusting my wages in a manner that will enable me to cope with the increase in the cost of living so that overall, I protect my living standard. I think that is very legitimate.
“The business of labour is to protect and even improve the living standard.”
The Federal Government and the labour unions, NLC and TUC, are still engaged in negotiations following the removal of fuel subsidy. However, the NLC is set to commence a nationwide strike on Wednesday, if the government fails to reverse the hike in fuel pump price.