The Federal Government on Wednesday said it was prepared to reopen negotiation with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over the fuel price hike.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the strike action called by the NLC to press for the reversal of fuel price will neither earn more money for the government or repair the refineries.
He, however, debunked claims by the leadership of the NLC that government did not consult the union before announcing the new pump price, adding that government and labour met twice on the issue with organised labour offering its own suggestions on the template presented by the Minister of Petroleum.
Ngige appealed to the NLC leadership led by Ayuba Wabba to return to the negotiating table, saying he has obtained the mandate of the government negotiating team to reopen negotiation with them.
The statement reads: “The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. (Dr.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige is constrained to respond to a number of issues which were raised today (Wednesday) by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, after he led the NLC to withdraw from the negotiation between the Federal Government and organised labour on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.
“It is instructive to note that most Nigerians have shown great understanding of the fact that the current problem is not a subsidy removal issue, but how to deal with the non-availability of foreign exchange, a situation that leaves the federal government with no other choice than to deregulate the downstream of the petroleum sector which resulted in rise in pump price of petroleum.
“In view of the above, the federal government is fully committed to the quick implementation of the palliatives in the 2016 budget, while developing other ways to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.
“The federal government appreciates all the important issues raised by the labour unions and has taken them into consideration.
Government is resolute in making sure that the economy is not only strong, but able to provide jobs and opportunities for all Nigerians.
“The federal government went to court to seek an injunction restraining labour from embarking on strike because there is a clear process of declaring labour strike under the law.
It is therefore the view of government that those processes were not complied with before the NLC called the strike.”