Several hours after the Federal Government’s marathon meeting with the organised labour, uncertainty hovers around the nation’s workforce.
in a last minute effort to stop the planned October 3 nationwide strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, the Federal Government called for a meeting which commenced at 2 pm on Sunday.
The meeting was held at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
A similar meeting called three days earlier by the government was boycotted by the labour unions.
However, on Sunday, representatives of the two leading workers’ unions met with the Federal Government delegation led by Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In attendance were the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, the Minister of State, Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
The labour delegation was led by NLC President, Joe Ajaero, Dr Tommy Etim Okon, Deputy President, TUC, NLC General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, TUC General Secretary, Nuhu Toro, among others.
Governor Abdulrazak Abdulrahman of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, participated virtually in the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, President Tinubu had during a nationwide broadcast to mark the country’s 63rd independence anniversary, announced a 25 per cent increase in salary to junior civil servants for a period of six months.
However, at the Sunday meeting, the pay was raised to N35,000 and extended to all categories of federal employees.
A statement signed by Mallam Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, confirmed after the meeting that “the Federal Government has announced N35,000 only as a provisional wage increment for all treasury-paid federal government workers for six months following consultation with President Tinubu.
“The Federal Government is committed to fast-tracking the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to ease public transportation difficulties associated with the removal of the PMS subsidy.
“The Federal Government commits to the provision of funds for micro and small-scale enterprises.
“VAT on diesel will be waived for the next 6 months.
“The Federal Government will commence payment of N75,000 to 15 million households at N25,000 per month, for a three-month period from October-December 2023.”
While harping on the need to shelve the planned strike, the minister said in the statement that “the issues in dispute can only be resolved when workers are at work and not when they are on strike.”
He noted further that, “Labour Unions argued for higher wage award and the Federal Government Team promised to present Labour’s request to President Bola Tinubu for further consideration.
“A sub-committee to be constituted to work out the details of implementation of all items for consideration regarding government interventions to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
“The lingering matter of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State needs to be addressed urgently and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who participated virtually, pledged to resolve the matter.
“NLC and TUC will consider the offers by the Federal Government with a view to suspending the planned strike to allow for further consultations on the implementation of the resolutions above.”
NLC Chairman, Ajaero was not categorical on the union’s stand after the meeting.
He said, “I don’t have much to say than the Chief of Staff has said. We’ve been meeting and we’ve looked at almost all the issues, all the promissory notes from the government and we’ll look at how to translate them to reality and to be workable.
“Then we’re going to take those promises to our organs, of course you know these people here cannot just wake up and review and call off action.”
It, however, remains unclear the next line of action that the organised labour would take, especially as the state chapters of the unions feel neglected in the resolutions reached during the meeting.
One of the State chairmen of the NLC told DAILY POST that the fate of the state workers were hanging in the balance.
“We expected an agreement that would be all encompassing, not a scenario where they only factored federal employees.
“As we speak, some states are yet to even implement the N30,000 minimum wage while many have not done consequential adjustment; so where do we go from here?
“Any compromise towards calling off the strike should be holistic, otherwise it makes no sense for those of us at the state level,” he stated.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the labour unions would meet at 11 am today, Monday, to take a definite stand on the strike.
Another chapter chairman, who confirmed the scheduled meeting, told DAILY POST that: “As of yesterday (Sunday) when the information came to our platform, I just made a comment just like other colleagues, different state chairmen. And Mr President said we are meeting at 11 am this morning (Monday), that we should not discuss the outcome of the meeting on the platform, that he is going to brief us properly at 11 am.
“So we should consider all that we have been seeing and hearing as hearsay until we have discussed with him and the leadership of the NLC through our NEC meeting at 11 am this morning.
“Whatever I may be telling you now is still based on social media information. It is always good for me to talk from the right points, especially when we have our NEC meeting and have agreed on basic issues.
“So when we might have concluded the meeting I will be in a better shape with information on what transpired in that meeting ( NLC and FG) yesterday, or what the NLC will do with regards to the interest of the States and Local Governments.”