• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

FG begs labour to withdraw strike threat

Tinubu flags off African First Ladies summit

… to resume N35,000 wage awards

… says 70% down payment made for CNG buses

 

The Federal Government, on Tuesday, said it would resume the payment of the N35,000 wage award it initiated to cushion of harsh effect of the petrol subsidy removal on federal workers.

The government also begged the organised labour – represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), to withdraw its 14-day strike notice.

Read also: Hardship: NLC, TUC insist on nationwide strike

Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, minister of state for labour and employment, gave the assurance in Abuja at a meeting with the leadership of the two labour centres following their ultimatum to the government on the implementation of the 16-point agreement reached with them on October 2, 2023, or faced a nationwide strike.

Onyejeocha also said that the government had stepped up efforts to complete the implementation of that agreement.

Read also: Nigerians face blackout as electricity workers join NLC strike

The minister had convened the meeting to brief the labour centres on the progress of the implementation of the agreement, and to reaffirm the government’s commitment to the agreement.

“We indeed agreed, but the government has shown good faith, and considering the urgency of the issue at hand, I called this meeting because dialogue has always been the best way out, and we are all for the well-being of our people.

On the compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, Michael Oluwagbemi, the programme director and chief executive of the Presidential CNG initiative, who addressed the meeting virtually, stated that the government had made 70 percent payment for the procurement of new buses and CNG kits.

He said while some of the buses were ready, they expect to start assembling others locally, including the tricycles between March and April 2024.

The meeting agreed on an immediate joint inspection visit to the Port Harcourt Refinery for labour to confirm the reported progress made in getting the refinery back into operation.

Onyejeocha noted that while the reaction of the labour was not unwarranted in the face of the government’s non-completion of the agreement, bearing in mind that some items in the agreement could only be achieved in stages, she hoped that the discussion would lead to the withdrawal of the ultimatum by labour.

The minister also promised that the government would keep working towards the complete implementation of the agreement, and requested the labour centres to withdraw their ultimatum.

“I plead with you to sheath your sword. We have been showing good faith; it is just that it is not commensurate with your expectations; but I promise you that we will surpass your expectation this time, and I believe that everything will go well,” she said.

Joe Ajaero, president of the NLC, however, urged the government to be committed to beating the deadline of the 14-day ultimatum, which took effect from February 9, 2024, by ensuring the implementation of that agreement.

Ajaero declared their resolve to stand by their ultimatum and stated that every party to the agreement should endeavour to live up to expectations in the interest of Nigerians and the government.

Tommy Okon, first deputy president of TUC, also echoed Ajeoro’s concerns and criticised the government’s gradual approach to the implementation of the signed agreement.

“We don’t need to beg the government to do what is right. Let me tell you, we, the organised labour, are the ones managing the crisis in this country for the government; if not, we wouldn’t be here today discussing these issues.”