The Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) has reiterated its resolve to begin industrial action to protest its arrears of benefits and better condition of Service at the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum it served the Federal Government through the management of Nigeria Railway Corporation(NRC).
The strike due to commence on Wednesday 13th July on the expiration of the ultimatum on Tuesday, is already faced with uncertainty as the NRC is said to be currently running on deficit and presents no hope for the workers’ demand.
Although the management of NRC has been making frantic efforts to avert the strike, it was learnt as it held a round-table discussion with the leadership of the union on Wednesday, last week.
Speaking with MMS Plus, the Secretary General of NUR, Comrade Segun Esan confirmed that there was a meeting between the Union and the management of NRC to discuss some of the concerns raised by the union to avoid shutting down the Railways.
According to him, “While the discussion is ongoing the ultimatum equally is counting, so we pray before the expiration of the ultimatum, all the items we raised would have been addressed and if that happens we won’t have any reason to embark on industrial action” comrade,” Esan assured.
In a statement jointly signed by the President and Secretary-General of NUR, comrade innocent Luka Ajiji and Segun Esan, respectively, the Union decried poor working conditions of railway workers and the urgent need for government to look into it and improve on them or risk shutting down the railways.
Among the issues raised were for government to look into the Standard Condition of Service which was reviewed but wasn’t acted upon. The non-payment of allowances, stretching workers beyond the approved 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week by the Public Service Rule(PSR), administrative delay in promotion and the non implementation of the ninety five percent salary enhancement approval and among others were issues listed by the union.
The meeting had in attendance the Managing Director of NRC Engr. Fidet Okhiria and the two in-house unions-NUR and Senior Staff Association.
In a similar development, the NRC has been said to be running on deficit as it has continued gulp money as a result of the ongoing revitalization process and therefore generate nothing to meaningful to cover its liabilities.
A senior management staff who prefers to be anonymous confirmed that that the Corporation was facing serious challenges in running the trains which he attributed to the high cost of diesel and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
According to him,“We all know and see the continuous rise in diesel and PMS and the effects on the economy, the effect are biting hard on the NUR. Ever since the increase in price of diesel, our tickets prices have remained the same and we cannot just increase the prices and this is affecting our business”.
According to the reports of Nigeria Bureau on Statistics (NBS), in 2021 NUR, generated N6. 08 billion into the government coffer. The same year under review, the corporation had about 2.71 million passengers and 168,301 tons of goods.
Again, the prices of diesel have risen to more than 100 percent since last year. The Abuja – Kaduna line which is the major source of revenue has also been short down following the attack on the train.
The line, according to the former Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi, generates at least N300, 000 million everywhere month. It is fair to say that all the cumulative effects of 2022 are affecting various sectors of the economy with the consequences of dwindling revenue. While many organizations have cried out and seeking government’s intervention to enable them stay in business, the NUR seems unperturbed even when the offices are unable to power generator for administrative duties due to high cost of diesel.
Similarly, reacting on the high prices of diesel and PMS, comrade Segun said that government should urgently address the issue as the Railway and the other transport sectors are being crippled.
An average ticket price goes for 2,600 for economy class and 5000and 6000 for standard and VIP class, respectively.