By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
The Federal Government on Wednesday insisted that the indefinite strike embarked upon by the organised labour is illegal.
Accordingly, it warned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliate bodies to be mindful of existing labour laws and the court injunction obtained by the Ministry of Justice stopping the strike action.
The NLC and the civil society groups have called out their members to the streets to protest the recent hike in pump price of petrol from N86.50 to N145 per litre by the Federal Government.
But ahead of the strike scheduled to begin by midnight on Tuesday, the Federal Government, when it was obvious that labour would not back down on their demand for the reversal of the new pump price, hurriedly obtained a court injunction restraining labour from embarking on the action.
Briefing State House correspondents after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, reminded Comrade Ayuba Wabba-led NLC that, aside from the court injunction, the existing labour laws did not support the strike they had embarked upon.
Specifically, Ngige pointed out that section 40 of the labour law prescribed that workers on essential services must give a notice of not less that 15 days to their employers before they could embark on an industrial action.
According to him, the penalty for failure to observe that section of the law was N100,000 fine or six months in jail.
He announced, however, that government was still amenable to amicable resolution of the dispute with labour and the civil society groups.
Ngige also disclosed that the board of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), which is one of the demands by labour, would be reconstituted in the next two weeks.
Also speaking at the press briefing, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed explained away the decisison of the Federal Government to increase fuel price, saying that it had nothing to do with subsidy removal.
He said: “The increase is not about subsidy; the fact is that Nigeria is broke, pure and simple!”
Also, FEC approved a tax remission of 30 percent to Dangote Group for the construction of Kabba-Obaja-Lokoja-Ilorin road.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola who announced this at the press briefing after the FEC meeting, said by this arrangement, Dangote group would undertake the reconstruction of the roads and the cost would be deducted from its taxes, not more than 30 percent annually.
“It is a total economic policy which council considered and approved because it gives support to industry, it enables us take benefit of our tax law to renew infrastructure at a time where we are realy challenged for resources to finance all our roads. It also enables us to save lives by quickly and urgently rebuilding that road so that other commuters who also depend on that road for their livelihood would also benefit from the road,” Fashola emphasized.
By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.