The strike called by Nigeria’s main labour unions to protest hikes in fuel prices and value added taxes (VAT) will start as scheduled Wednesday, despite government’s decision to reverse the hikes, a union official said Tuesday.
To avert the strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the federal government had late Monday announced reduction of fuel price from 75 naira (57 cents) to 70 naira (54 cents) per litre.
The price before the controversial increase in May was 65 naira (50 cents) per litre.
The government also reverted VAT from 10% to 5% and promised to pay an agreed 15% salary increase to public sector workers. But it did not cancel the sale of three key refineries and a power station as demanded by the unions.
“We cannot just call off the strike without a meeting of our decision-making organ, and that takes time because most members (of the organ) are outside (the nation’s capital) Abuja,” a senior NLC official told PANA on condition of anonymity.
“Notwithstanding the government’s offer, the strike must start as planned tomorrow (Wednesday) and continue until the (labour-government) meeting, which may hold Wednesday,” he said.
According to the unionist, the government’s offer has not go far enough.
Meanwhile, Senate President David Mark has appealed to workers to shelve the strike in the interest of peace and stability.
He made the appeal Tuesday when he visited the NLC Headquarters in Abuja.
Union officials later went to parliament to meet with the Speaker of the lower House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh, ahead of another planned meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babagana Kingibe.
Nigeria’s major cities have already been grounded by a different strike by the Independent petroleum marketers protesting the price hikes and sales of refineries and power station.
Though that strike has been called off, most fuel stations have run out of stock, forcing many vehicles off the roads with fuel selling for double the official price in the booming black market.