NLC,TUC reject subsidy withdrawal

Labour and civil society groups yesterday rejected the removal of petrol subsidy by the government.

The Joint Action Force, the Pro Labour Civil Society Partner in the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) has slated its protest against the decision for tomorrow.

The action, it said, will take off from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Secretariat in Yaba, Lagos.

The JAF President, Dr Dipo Fashina and Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, said JAF’s position is that all the four refineries must be made to function optimally before removal of subsidy.

Fashina said “JAF wishes to restate that its kick-off of Mass action slated for January 3, 2012, at 8a.m., at the Nigeria Labour Congress, Yaba, Lagos office is in force”.

The group also urged the public to boycott and shut down any filling station selling petrol, kerosene and diesel above N65, N50 and N70.

Aremu said the decision to increase the prices is anti-people, adding: “We must not allow profiteers and looters to enslave us again. Freedom is not given; it is fought for and won.”

NLC Vice President Comrade Isa Aremu said the subsidy removal is unacceptable to labour because the announcement came from PPPRA, which is also part of the nation’s problems.

He called on Nigerians to stand firm against the action while they await directives from Labour on collective rejection of the policy. He described that the action is a gross distortion of the on going policy dialogue on the issue.

His words: “Price regime change of over 100 per cent, coming from a discredited organisation like the PPPRA is unacceptable to Nigerians. Issue that assumed local and national dimension with the President reading the Policy Dialogue issued by the co-ordinating Minister cannot be withdrawn by the PPPRA. Nigerian people must reject it holistically.”

He added: “Nigerians must reject this new price imposition because it is a gross distortion of the current policy dialogue that was on-going. There is an existing agreement between the NLC and the Federal Government, which states that price of PMS is N65 per litre. Any price outside this is unacceptable. This shows that this is one government that cannot be trusted. Nigerians must make sure they uphold the price regime of N65.

“The Federal Government must be held responsible for any chaos at the filling stations because Nigerians will ensure the N65 price regime stays.”

Secretary-General of the TUC, Chief John Kolawole, said, “We reject it on behalf of Nigerians. We are consulting. Nigerians should get ready for action. The TUC organs will meet at a time to be announced later. I can assure you that our position has not changed because government has not met any of the conditions we gave before withdrawing the subsidy.

In NLC’s New Year message, by President, Comrade Abdulwahed Omar entitled: “Roll up Your Sleeves in 2012”, it said, labour will resist the removal with rallies and sensitisation.

It said: “While government claims to be “consulting” on the fuel subsidy removal, its Commissioners of Police in a number of states are boasting that they are armed and battle ready to smash Nigerians who may publicly protest their feelings against the removal. 

“Since the concept of ‘consultations’ is nebulous, and there are no objective criteria to determine its outcome, the NLC challenges the Government to conduct a referendum on the issue to determine the WILL of the Nigerian people. If it does not, but rather elects to impose its will on the citizenry, the Nigerian people have the fundamental right to resist. Since the fuel subsidy removal is a war foretold, Nigerians must begin preparations to meet this challenge in the New Year.

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NLC,TUC reject subsidy withdrawal