The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Friday commended the Federal Government for eliminating fuel subsidies.
The Federal Government had on Wednesday announced the take-off of full deregulation of the downstream sector of the Nigerian petroleum industry, which changed in petrol price from N86.50 to N145 per litre.
Welcoming the petrol price increase, the workers stated that the measure would benefit Nigerians in the nearest future but also added that they would seek negotiations with the Federal Government in order to monitor the proceeds that would accrue from the price increase. They also said that they would push for a new minimum wage demand of N90,000, given the new development.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had earlier criticized the decision, and vowed to resist what it called “the height of insensitivity and impunity.” Nigerians had expected the two oil workers unions PENGASSAN and NUPENG , which are key affiliates of the NLC, to follow suit with strong words against the new fuel price.
The two unions were reported to have said:
“The NEC-in-session had an extensive discussion on the recent price modulation and is of the view that price deregulation has its benefits in the immediate and near future.”
“Government should engage with the stakeholders to work out a clear direction on how to reinvest the gains of the policy into the economy to cushion the effect of the price on the people.”
The communiqué signed by PENGASSAN President, Francis Johnson, and his NUPENG counterpart, Igwe Achese, asked government to pay attention to the state of the nation, particularly on issues bordering on national security, power, bad roads, unemployment/casualization and redundancy in the oil industry.
Specifically, the unions asked government to ensure that all the four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna perform optimally, while machinery should be put in place for the construction of new ones to ensure adequate local refining and products supply for domestic consumption and possibly export.
According to the groups, Nigerians have been yearning for the removal of subsidy for many years now but to no avail.
According to the communique:
“The price is the secondary issue; the Federal Government has brought up a policy that would stop money from entering into the hands of few individuals.”
“The subsidy removal is a welcome development; we must not mortgage our economy into the hands of few selfish individuals.’’
They said that they would push for a new minimum wage demand of N90, 000, given the new development.
“With the new pump price of N145 per litre, government must speed up the negotiation process for a new minimum wage of N90, 000 to cushion the effect of the envisaged inflation.
“ As the price of fuel increases, there should also be an increment in workers’ salary as the old minimum wage of N18, 000 has no effect again.’’
Other resolutions at the meeting included immediate reconstitution of the boards of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA and Petroleum Equalisation Fund, PEF for the management of the new fuel price regime.