Tony Osauzo, Benin
Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress in Edo State took to the streets of Benin on Monday to protest the recent increase of electricity tariff, fuel and Value Added Tax (VAT), in defiance of organised labour’s call off of an earlier planned strike action over the hike in the prices of utilities.
The protesters who were led by the former presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr Osagie Obayuwana, and the State NLC chairman Mr Sunny Osayande, assembled at the King’s Square (Ring Road) and bore placards with inscriptions such as “No to Electricity Hike”, “No to Fuel Hike”, “Kill Corruption” amongst others, even as they attacked the government for the increase the prices.
They insisted that they will embark on a total strike if the government refuses to reverse the increment in two weeks.
‘We say no to the increase in electricity tariff, fuel and VAT. We say no to privatization where our wealth is given to a few persons. They are just buying time but before you know it, two weeks will come and go,’ Dr Obayuwana said.
In his speech, the NLC chairman, Sunny Osayande, said the union decided to embark on the peaceful march to express its displeasure over the manner the union called off the strike.
He warned that in the event that the government refuses to listen to the grievances of organised labour in two weeks time, it will have no choice but to embark on a total strike.
‘We took to the streets to tell the masses that what the federal government brought is nothing. The hike in VAT, fuel and electricity tariff should be reversed within two weeks, if not we will go on strike,’ Osayande said.