Adams Oshiomhole, the Senator-elect representing Edo-North Senatorial District of Edo State, has said the removal of subsidy by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration is negatively affecting Nigerians.
The former Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leader said the subsidy removal had jerked up the cost of living.
The NLC had on Sunday shunned a meeting called by the Federal Government to discuss the subsidy removal and the attendant hike in fuel pump prices across the country.
The union insisted that it would not hold any dialogue with the government representatives unless a legitimate team was set up.
However, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) officials attended the meeting which was a follow-up to the talks held with the NLC at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week, which ended in a deadlock.
Speaking about the discussion on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Oshiomhole acknowledged that there was a lot of merit in the demands of Nigerian workers.
According to him, the unions want an increase in the minimum wage as well as government investment in transport to reduce the cost of transportation.
“The Trade Union Congress came up with a list of specific demands which they will want the government to address. I believe that a lot of those demands are doable, are viable and they make a lot of sense.
“The government in return agreed to look at this comprehensively and revert back on Tuesday with a view to finding a common solution,” he said.
The former governor of Edo State ssured that the current administration is ready to increase the minimum wage but insisted that it must be done in line with the money available to the government.
He said, “When you withdraw subsidy, you try to make some savings…the fact of that saving means the cost of PMS is going to go up and therefore those who operate commercial vehicles or own private vehicles will have to pay more. Passengers will have to pay more to return from work, farmers will have to pay more to go to the market to sell their farm produce and also pay more to return back home.
“In a sense, there is no question that removing the subsidy means some level of increase in the cost of living beyond the cost of transportation. It will cascade to every aspect of life.
“Labour is opposed to the removal of subsidy because of the consequential increase in the cost of living. And now that you have done it, then you have to deal with the other side of it which is adjusting my wages in a manner that will enable me to cope with the increase in the cost of living so that overall, I protect my living standard. I think that is very legitimate.
“The business of labour is to protect and even improve the living standard.”
According to Oshiomhole, the federal government would no longer sign agreements without fulfilling them, noting that there was a need for negotiation.