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Don’t Remove Labour From Exclusive List – NLC Warns

NLC Threatens Industrial Action Over Electricity Tariff Hike By Felix ifijeh Organized labour, under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has warned that it would embark on an industrial action if the speculation about an increase in electricity tariff becomes a reality. NLC stated this in a letter titled, “Notice on Speculations on increase in Electricity Tariff,” signed by its president, Ayuba Wabba. The current electricity tariff charged for residential areas in both Abuja and Lagos ranges from N36 to N47.09 per kilowatt. The Federal Government approved the last increase in electricity tariff in January 2021 following complaints by the operators of the distribution companies that low tariff was adversely affecting their business. However, there have been speculations that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was planning to grant fresh approvals for an increase in tariff by commencing the processes for the Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2020). According to reports, NERC is considering inflationary pressure, foreign exchange, gas prices and available generation capacity as part of the reasons for the proposed tariff hike. However, there have been negotiations between the Federal Government and organized labour on modalities to use in arriving at a tariff mechanism acceptable to both parties. In the letter, NLC dismissed reports of an on-going plan to increase electricity tariff as mere speculation. The letter read, “We wish to draw your attention to the wave of speculation, especially as widely reported in the media, that there are fresh plans to grant approval to Electricity Distribution Companies to hike electricity tariff. “We write to remind the minister that organized labour on September 28, 2020 through the federal government-organized labour committee on Electricity Tariff agreed to freeze further increases in electricity tariff until the committee concludes its work and its report adopted by all the principals in the committee. “It is in light of this that we dismiss the on-going speculation on increase in electricity tariff as mere speculations. We, however, find it prudent to put you on notice that should the government make true the swirling speculation by approving an increase in electricity tariff, organized labour would be left with no option than to deploy the industrial mechanisms granted in our laws for the defense of workers’ rights.”
National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba
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February 08, (THEWILL) – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has kicked against removing Labour from the Exclusive Legislative List.

In the statement by its president, Ayuba Wabba, NLC noted that labour issues were presently domiciled in the Second Schedule, Legislative Powers, Part 1, Exclusive list, Item 34.

”For the sake of our national interest, security and industrial harmony, labour should not be one of the items that should be devolved to the states,” he said.

Explaining how it came to be on the Exclusive list, Wabba noted that the nation-states legislation on Labour was driven substantially by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, protocols and recommendations and other instruments domesticated through the Acts of parliament.

He added that this explained the near uniformity of labour laws across the nations of the world and relative global industrial order, harmony and an attraction for foreign investment.

Wabba said this was in realisation of the reality that 17 days after independence in 1960 under a democratic government Nigeria fell in line by rectifying and domesticated ILO Conventions 87 and 98, guarantying the right to organise and collectively bargain.

However, he said that Nigeria had since adopted all the core conventions in its capacity as a sovereign nation and regularly attends ILO organ meetings as a sovereign in line with international best practices.

The NLC president further said the reasons for Nigeria’s relative industrial growth and development, and evolution into an investor’s haven were partly attributed to its willingness to subject itself to this global order and corpus of international labour standards.

Meanwhile, he noted that the ILO was created in 1919 by the Versailles Peace Treaty ending World War 1 along with the League of Nations to address widespread demands for social justice and improved living standards for the world’s working people.

He said that this had survived World War 2 and today served as a specialised agency of the UN dedicated to promoting labour standards globally.

”In the light of this, deregulating labour to the states will inevitably create intractable problems. At the membership level, the 36 states of the federation and FCT are not sovereign which is a basis for ILO membership in Nigeria.

”Secondly, a corpus of labour legislation across the 36 states and FCT will almost certainly create a judicial nightmare.

”Thirdly, investors will be scared away as they will consider this as an unnecessary addition to the already hostile operating environment. At the level of workers who often act in the national interest, this will whittle down patriotic influence.

”In the light of this, we will strongly advocate against removing labour from the Exclusive Legislative List. Not even during the military era was this contemplated,” he said.