Labour Gives Conditions To Support Refineries’ Privatisation

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday hinged its support for the planned privatisation of the country’s refineries on the process being opened, transparent and allowing every Nigerian, including workers, to buy shares in the entities.

However, it rejected the suggestion that the organised labour should float an import facility and join in the fuel import business.

The organised labour and the federal government have been negotiating a way out of the looming hike in petrol price which became apparent following the rise in the cost of crude oil in the international market.

At the last meeting between the two parties in Abuja, where they considered the report of the Technical Committee on Petrol Pricing Framework, NLC and TUC rejected a proposal by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to raise the pump price of fuel.

But NLC President, Dr. Ayuba Wabba, told THISDAY yesterday that labour would ensure that workers and Nigerians are not shortchanged in the supply of petroleum products by marketers.

On the moves to privatise the refineries, Wabba called on the federal government to review the privatisation process in order to make it more open and transparent.

He said the organised labour would insist that workers and ordinary Nigerians should be allowed to participate in the process and buy shares if they so desire.

“What we are telling the government is that if you are selling the refineries, make it also available to the public as is done in other countries. Don’t think that only you can share it. Workers can also buy into it if they are allocated shares. Even in the law, like when the electricity sector was privatised, there was a provision that two per cent should go to workers. The government didn’t allocate that.

“What I am saying is that Nigeria workers can buy shares in the refineries.

We can mobilise Nigerian workers. Why should it be that only portfolio carriers that should be allocated slots?” he said.

He also faulted the privatisation of the power sector, saying the process was not transparent.

“They just shared it among themselves and when you hear privatisation and concession in Nigeria, that is what it is and this is what we don’t want,” he said.

On the continued importation of petrol, Wabba said labour had no business trading in petroleum products, but in ensuring that workers are shortchanged by distributors and markets of petroleum products.

“We are not businessmen. We have unions in the oil and gas sector; they can play that role. We are not marketers. Our interest is to defend and protect the interest of Nigerian workers and Nigerians in general and that has been the role of NLC for over a decade now,” he stated.

According to him, their interest has always been to let Nigerians get the product at an affordable rate.

– Thisday

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