The meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress held at Dankani Guest Palace Hotel, Sokoto on Thursday, November, 10, 2016. The NEC reviewed the state of the nation and the unions and the plight of workers and pensioners. After an exhaustive deliberation, NEC resolved as follows: Increase in Price of Petroleum Products NEC reviewed the protest rallies in May against the increase in the pump price of petroleum products noting the challenges of prosecution of the rallies. NEC noted that the present motions by government, in spite of occasional denials, were highlights of another round of pump price increase, stressing that its position has been justified as it had warned that tying the pump price of products to the price of crude in the international market and the black market exchange rate was not sustainable.
Accordingly, NEC resolved to engage government as citizens cannot afford the burden of another round of increase. Neither can the private sector, as it will substantially affect the cost of production. NEC resolved to urge the government to put in place a more pocket-friendly template on petroleum pricing in consideration of the blow dealt to wages and quality of life by devaluations of the Naira and inflation and the prices of crude in the international market. NEC resolved to commence sensitisation of members and allies in anticipation of a formal announcement of an increase. NEC resolved to do self-cleansing as well as review its strategies and tactics in order to achieve maximum effect in subsequent protest rallies. Electricity Tariff; NEC noted that power stability is key to industrialization, self-sufficiency and economic growth. NEC commended the judgement of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos which declared as illegal the 45% increase in electricity tariff eight months after it was imposed.
NEC frowned at the refusal of these parties to obey the court judgment. NEC noted the continued poor quality of service, arbitrary charges, unwillingness of DISCOs to make available to consumers prepaid metres, deficit of technical competence, and lack of capacity to turn around the energy sector as there is a funding gap of N1trillion. NEC expressed its concern at the campaign by the Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors to further hike tariff by 200 per cent. NEC said if allowed, it would amount to crude/outrageous exploitation of consumers, gross insensitivity and undermining of the national productivities, capacity and security. NEC similarly recalled that in the face of overwhelming challenges, the Canadian Government reversed the privatisation of its energy sector as indeed other countries.
Accordingly, NEC condemned government, NERC, DISCOs for not obeying a valid court judgement and demanded that they obey this judgement . NEC resolved to organise nation-wide rallies to pressure government, NERC, and DISCOs to obey the court order on tariff increase as well as other processes that constitute conditions precedent to the smooth, efficient and fair running of the sector to all the stake holders. In the alternative, NEC, in the face of continued overwhelming challenges in the energy sector, resolved to urge the government once again to review the privatisation exercise in the energy sector having failed to deliver. Think-Tank NEC commended the leadership of the Congress for constituting a Think-Tank which will assist it develop an alternative development agenda. NEC noted that such a body gives advantage to Congress in its relationship with its core social partners, Government and Employers.
NEC accordingly resolved that all necessary support should be extended to the Think-Tank as when necessary to enable it discharge its functions without let or hinderance. Ogun State Council Workers NEC noted that the Chairman of Ogun State Council and other union executives were dismissed or suspended from service by the Ogun State Government. NEC noted the circumstances surrounding this issue including the mediatory effort of NUT, the union to which the majority of the affected workers belong. NEC accordingly resolved to use all legitimate means available to it to get the affected workers re-instated. Condition of the Nigerian Worker NEC reviewed the State of the Nation noting the challenges in the economy, the World of Work, Social and Security challenges facing us as a people, the condition of the Nigerian workers, pensioners and their families. NEC acknowledged the difficulties of the working class and their families, noting that these are some of the most challenging times in the life of the nation as cost of goods and services have more than quadrupled in the face of static wages and pensions that are seldom paid as when due. NEC took particular notice of the failure and implications of state governments to regularly pay salaries, pensions and gratuities. NEC commended its members for their patriotism by rendering service or regularly going to work in spite of these overwhelming challenges. NEC commended the affiliate members for their solidarity-interventions in states where salaries, pensions and gratuities were not paid for a long time, acknowledging that these interventions paid off as they led to substantial remedial measures.
Accordingly, NEC resolved to sustain its intervention drive or campaigns by way of protest rallies in the states where salaries or pensions or gratuities are not paid as when due. NEC resolved to urge state governments and other employers to ensure regulars payment of salaries, pensions, gratuities and mandatory deductions in order to avert the total collapse of our socio-economic system NEC urged the State Councils in States with salary arrears of three or more months to invoke the doctrine of “No Pay, No Work”, assuring that such states will receive the backing of the entire Congress in furtherance of its motto, “an injury to one is an injury to all”. NEC resolved to continue to challenge the obnoxious policies of state governors or any other employer of labour wherever or whenever they occur, adding that rights of workers are inalienable.
National Minimum Wage and Pensions NEC recalled its formal demand for a new national minimum wage and Pension which it said are due by law and massive devaluations of the Naira and spiraling inflation. NEC noted that after its formal demand, developments in the economy such as the increase in the pump price of petroleum products, uncommon rise in prices of commodity, increased tariff in utilities, and social services such as education etc. have made the demand more urgent. NEC noted that the fight against corruption will be more successful if workers are properly paid. NEC noted the foot dragging by government to constitute a Committee to deliberate on its demand.
NEC said the need for a new national minimum wage cannot be overstated in light of the outlined facts and accordingly urged the government to urgently review upward the national minimum wage, or speedily constitute a Tripartite Committee to deliberate on its demand for a new national minimum wage, warning that further delay could seriously impair peaceful industrial relations. Pension Scheme NEC noted that the federal and state governments and some other employers of labour are in the habit of withholding Contributory Pension deductions running into several months arrears. NEC noted that non-remittance of deductions or contributions by the federal and state governments and some other employers constitutes a direct threat to the pension scheme and subjects pensioners to untold hardship. NEC noted that the unauthorised withholding of pension funds is a contravention of the Pensions Act 2004 (as amended). NEC therefore resolved to urge the federal and state governments and other employers of labour to ensure that pension deductions are promptly remitted to the appropriate organs of the scheme. NEC resolved to urge PENCOM to enforce to the letter sanctions for non-remittance of pension deductions as when due.
NEC resolved to advise those canvassing for the investment of pension funds in infrastructure to take note that these funds may not be ideal for this purpose as they are invested in federal government’s bonds and treasury bills. NEC however, urged that in view of the volatility of the financial market, any investment must guarantee the safety of the funds. Corruption NEC reviewed the government’s fight against corruption in the polity. NEC commended the government for its unflagging militancy against corruption but noted that a lot still needs to be done.
NEC cited the instances of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) where corruption is being rewarded and whistle blowers punished. NEC condemned in strong terms the vindictive actions being carried out against the whistle blowers in these two federal institutions including the termination of appointments of 23 staff at FUNAAB. NEC expressed dismay at the failure of the Ministries of Health, Justice and even the office of the President to respond, to the complaints of vendetta brought before them. NEC noted that the fastest way of killing the fight against corruption is to expose whistle blowers. NEC accordingly resolved to draw the attention of government once again to the ongoing acts of vendetta at FMC, Owerri and FUNAAB, Abeokuta. NEC resolved that it might be compelled to act in defence of its members if government fails to take the necessary steps. Collective Agreements NEC noted that both the federal and state governments at the moment observe in the breach collective agreements they voluntarily entered into signed with the unions. NE.
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