FG’s meeting with NLC, TUC ends in deadlock – The Federal Government and Organized Labor met yesterday, but there has been no progress made since the Nigeria Labour Congress, or NLC, and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, or TUC, both rejected the government’s proposals.
But today’s meeting will start again at 4 p.m with an aim to reach an agreement.
According to sources at the meeting, President Bola Tinubu’s N25,000 temporary salary award for low-grade workers to mitigate the impact of the elimination of the petrol subsidy was rejected by the labor leaders.
Because the government had been threatening them with a court order, the labor leaders told Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to get ready to throw them all in jail, stating, “This is not acceptable.”
Recall that President Tinubu stated in a national broadcast on the 63rd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence that “Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation.
‘’For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.
“Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.”
However, Swagenews has reliable information that Organized Labor rejected the N25,000 provisional salary award and sought 200% of the present minimum wage during its meeting with the Federal Government team at the Permanent Conference Room, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In addition, Labour stressed that the temporary wage hike should not be restricted to a six-month period and should apply to all workers while a new Minimum Wage Act is being passed the following year.
The labor leaders also asked that the conditional cash transfer for the most disadvantaged citizens be doubled from the N5,000 the previous administration was providing to N25,000 for 15 million underprivileged Nigerians.
Femi Gbajabiamila, the government delegation’s chief of staff, broke up the meeting after many hours of horse dealing so that the government team could discuss with the president the new demands.
It was discovered that Simon Lalong, the minister of labor and employment, followed Gbajabiamila.
The NLC and TUC leaders also called for tax breaks for low-income earners, the elimination of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel for the following six months, and the availability of compressed natural gas (CNG) and buses within the following two months.
The meeting, which started at around 3:25 p.m. and finished around 7:15 p.m., will resume at 4 p.m. today.
Today’s Labour NEC meeting will discuss government offers.
Vanguard learned that labor leaders will also convene today’s meeting of the National Executive Council, or NEC, to inform NEC members of the government’s offers.
The NEC is anticipated to take a stance and issue the new directive to the leaders to present to the government.
Femi Gbajabiamila, the president’s chief of staff and the head of the government delegation, however, informed the media after the meeting that Tinubu had agreed to the organized labor’s demand that the salary award be uniform across the board.
He said: “We’ve been at a closed-door meeting with labor and government side since three o’clock. So, it’s been about four four-hour meetings.
“A lot of issues were addressed. Issues that concern the Nigerian workers, the average Nigerian worker. I can’t begin to reel them out here. But I am happy to say that after four hours, we have reached certain agreements that are for the benefit of the Nigerian worker.
“Agreements on the wage bill, agreements on committees on salary increment, CNG buses, on several other things, I believe both labour and government side?
“Hopefully, we expect that labour will call a meeting of their various branches and executive tomorrow (today) to present the agreements that have been reached, and we pray and believe and hope that the strike will be called off tomorrow.
“So I want to once again thank Labour for taking time out on a good Sunday like this one when they should be with their families to come and discuss in the interest of the workers. Thank you very much.
FG, meeting with NLC, TUC ends in deadlock
“There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about the issue of low-income workers only falling into the category of the provisional wage increase. We did communicate with the president and he quickly did say and agreed that all categories of workers would be given the wage bill.
‘’There is nothing like low income, medium income, or high income. I think it was worthy of clarification tonight.”
The N25,000 interim pay award was clarified, saying:“There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about the issue of low-income workers only falling into the category of the wage bill.’’
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, also spoke, saying: “I don’t have much to say than what the Chief of Staff has said. We have been meeting and we have looked at almost all the issues, all the promissory notes from the government.
‘’We will look at how to translate them to reality. Then we are 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.
“So like he (Gbajabiamila) said, we are hopeful that our organs will have a look at them and give us a fresh mandate on what to do next. So it’s a simple one.”
On his side, the acting President of TUC, Tommy Etim Okon, said: “We do hope that by tomorrow, we are going to meet with our organs.”
According to sources present at the meeting, the government team had requested that organized labor make an announcement suspending the ongoing strike, but it refused.
In a statement released yesterday after the conclusion of the meeting, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mallam Mohammed Idris, added: “The Federal Government has announced N25,000 only as provisional wage increment for all treasury-paid Federal Government workers for six months.
“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 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 six 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.”
According to the statement, the meeting resolved that “the issues in dispute can only be resolved when workers are at work and not when they are on strike.
“Labour unions argued for higher wage awards 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 implementation details of all items for consideration regarding government interventions to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
“The lingering matter of 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.
“Those at yesterday’s meeting included 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, chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila”.
Additionally present were Wale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Simon Lalong, Minister of State for Labor, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Betta Edu, and Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Uz.
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, the TUC Deputy President, Dr. Tommy Etim Okon, the NLC General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, the TUC General Secretary, and others served as the leadership for the Labour delegation.
In the meantime, Organized Labor has directed the state councils and affiliates to guarantee strict adherence to the call for a nationwide strike.
To ensure the success of the indefinite nationwide strike, organized labor has also established a strike zonal coordination body.
In a circular distributed to all 36 state councils and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC instructed the councils to hold joint meetings with the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and collaborate to ensure complete compliance with the strike directive.
The “Indefinite nationwide strike” circular asked all chairpersons of NLC state councils to immediately take the following actions in order to ensure a successful outcome.
‘’To immediately send a circular notifying all affiliate unions and workers in their states on the need to comply with the strike. Ensure that their respective compliance teams leave no stone unturned in discharging their responsibilities, especially in areas of strategic importance to the overall success of the action.
“Hold joint meetings with the TUC and work together to ensure total compliance with the essence of the action; continue providing the progress reports of their activities as the action begins to the national secretariat and the platforms.
“The success of this action is critical for the survival of workers and the masses. That this will happen is dependent on our collective determination and commitment. No one else can do it for us.”
To properly carry out the strike, the NLC and TUC have established zonal strike coordinating committees to collaborate with state councils, affiliates, and other supporters.
According to the information, the coordinating committees were inaugurated on Saturday.