Fuel subsidy: Federal Government, Labour negotiation deadlocked

What appeared to be a promising rapprochement between labour and government over the fuel subsidy crisis broke down last night as both parties could not reach an agreement. As a result, the strike continues today – its fifth day – while the negotiation will resume tomorrow instead of today reportedly because Fridays are generally half-working days in Abuja. The unions had earlier agreed with Senate President David Mark over lowering the price and had even supported the idea that deregulation could be moved to March from the April date they were proposing initially. But while supporting deregulation “in principle”, they said the price of petrol should first revert to N65 per litre while a committee should be set up to take a comprehensive look at the entire subsidy regime with a view to working out the “most feasible way forward”. Also, the unions wanted the government to reduce the cost of governance through a drastic cut in overheads. But the Federal Government proposed a three-tiered phased approach in the deregulation programme, with a caveat that a drastic cut in recurrent expenditure would entail pay cuts and retrenchment across board. However, the negotiation ended last night without a conclusive outcome, even though labour leaders said they had made progress and both parties were ready to shift ground.



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