The talks between the Federal Government and Labour represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Abuja on Saturday 14th January, 2012 stalled due to differences on the methodology in finding a solution to the crisis.
Labour’s analysis of the situation is that tension is very high in the land following the fuel price increase, the resultant strikes, rallies and street protests and the human causalities that have followed. And that a suspension of the new petrol prices will reduce tension and return the country to normalcy.
We decided to make a plea to President Goodluck Jonathan in the overriding interest of the country to suspend the PMS (petrol) price increases and direct that talks between government and Labour be concluded on the petroleum industry especially at it affects fuel subsidy and pricing within a short time frame.
We made a pledge that once the price increase suspension is announced, Labour and its allies will immediately suspend the strikes, rallies and street protests.
The summary of Labour’s position at the meeting was that talks and consultations were on-going before government aborted them by announcing the 120-220 per cent increase in the price of petrol, and that it is necessary to return to the status quo in order to douse tension, return the country to normalcy and allow for a conducive atmosphere for consultations and talks.
However, Government’s only offer was to reduce the new prices while declining to allow a phased price increase. We think that the government position will not return the country to normalcy. The Labour Movement pledges that whenever and wherever government invites us for talks, we shall be there without any conditionality.
Objectives of the Strikes and Protests
The Labour Movement once again reiterate that the strikes, rallies and streets protests must be peaceful and that the objective is the reversal of the petrol (PMS) prices to their pre-January 1, 2012 level. We are therefore not campaigning for ‘Regime Change’
The Labour Movement is wedded to democracy, therefore, anybody or group that wants a change in the political leadership of the country at whatever level, should do so through the ballot box.
The Labour Movement and its Civil Society allies are also saddened by the unprecedented loss of lives and injuries sustained during the indefinite strikes, rallies and streets protests that commenced from Monday January 9, 2012.
We reiterate that those who visit violence on protesters and their masters who gave such evil orders will individually be brought to justice.
We in the Labour Movement have done our duty to our country; we have made tremendous sacrifices including loss of lives; we have carried out the mandate of the Nigerian people; we can do no more.
For the avoidance of any doubt, the indefinite strikes, rallies and protests continue nationwide from Monday 16th January 2012.
Owei Lakemfa John Kolawole
Acting General Secretary Secretary General
Nigeria Labour Congress Trade Union Congress