The concession from the Government on petrol prices was only the result of the threat of mass protests. Further real action is needed to achieve outright cancellation of fuel prices increases.

The Government has claimed that they will now continue the fuel subsidy for another 18 months (until after the 2023 elections). But when was the last time that the Government kept an agreement with a trade union? The trade union protests should continue in each state, where possible, to ensure the Government gets the message. We want no fuel price increases and a decent minimum wage for all.

To extend the subsidy beyond February needs an amendment to the Petroleum Industry Bill. To extend it beyond June needs an amendment to the budget. So at the moment these are just vague promises; and we know the government generally does not even implement written and signed agreements with trade unions.

We should argue that the NLC protests, at state or Federal level, planned for this week and next week should continue.  Which Governor has fully implemented the minimum wage, stopped fuel price increases and paid their pensioners when due? Which Governor has stopped tuition fee increases in their state or stopped charges for primary health care services?

Unfortunately, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called off the protests in the states this week and the national protest next week.  This is a terrible mistake. It will make the situation worse for most people. Insecurity will increase as more people believe that there is no legal or regular way for them to stop their income plummeting. There were already queues at filling stations in Abuja on Tuesday evening – another price rise may already be on its way!

In every trade union branch there are differences of opinion.  At the national level, Joe Ajaero, NLC Deputy President, and others argued to continue the protests. We need to encourage such a debate across the trade union movement.

We should argue for:

•            The NLC protests to continue in every state where we have some influence;

•            Trade union branches should send letters of protest to the NLC nationally;

•            Solidarity messages to be sent to the striking workers in the research institutes who have been on strike for over three months now;

•            Solidarity messages to be sent to the striking teachers of Niger State.

We should argue for trade unions in the different states and their branches take the above action. The trade union movement is not just a few leaders sitting in Abuja.  The labour movement is made up of millions of workers and their families in every state, local government and ward. We need to argue for trade union leaders at every level to organise action. The NLC leaders in Abuja may not care, but for millions of workers the action provided hope for a better life for them and their children. We need unity in action for the protection of the welfare of workers and ordinary people. Nobody should be bound by a resolution against fighting for the rights of the mass of poor people.

We have to argue for the trade union movement to continue to fight for poor working people! No price fuel increases! No electricity price increases! A decent minimum wage for all!

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