The Monday meeting between the federal government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) concluded without reaching an agreement.
Simon Lalong, Minister of Labour and Employment, convened the meeting but failed to address the concerns raised by the Congress as the basis for the proposed strike.
Following the meeting, Lalong remained hopeful that while the issues raised by Nigerian workers couldn’t be immediately resolved, many of their concerns would be addressed before the deadline.
“I fully acknowledge and appreciate the invaluable role the NLC plays in championing for the rights and welfare of our workers.
“Your dedication and tireless advocacy have been critical in shaping a fair and inclusive work environment and ensuring the wellbeing of our workforce.
“We acknowledge the valid grievances that have fueled the recent labour crisis, and we are committed to addressing them in a just and equitable manner.
“We must also recognise the economic realities that confront us. As we address the concerns of our workforce, we must be mindful of striking a balance that promotes economic growth and secures sustainable progress for our nation.
“Today, I call upon each one of you to join hands in an open-minded and constructive dialogue, enabling us to bridge any gaps that may exist between the interests of workers and the ultimate goal of driving economic advancement.
“In the spirit of unity and with the utmost commitment to the betterment of our nation, let us seize this opportunity to listen and understand one another.
“Together, let us explore innovative approaches, reimagining strategies that enhance working conditions and worker benefits while nurturing a robust economy,” Lalong said.
He expressed optimism that the ongoing constructive dialogue would lead to the resolution of existing issues.
NLC President Joe Ajaero, at a meeting convened by Lalong, justified the union’s recent two-day warning strike, citing worker frustration.
Ajaero expressed displeasure with the government’s handling of the palliative scheme amid the subsidy removal policy, noting that none of the promised worker demands had been met.
While the labour union did not desire a strike, recent labour sector developments, such as the NURTW crisis with police intervention, raised concerns. Lalong, in his opening remarks, acknowledged the nation’s challenges, including industrial actions impacting the economy.
“We had a meaningful discussion on issues relating to our demands. We equally discussed frankly on issues bordering on the coup plotted and executed by the Nigerian Police against the NURTW, which had led to the sideling of the democratically elected leadership of the union. Both parties agreed that to express concern about.
“This is one sore area that the Nigerian Trade Union is not ready to compromise is that coup must be condemned, whether it is in Niger, whether it’s in Congo, whether it’s in Mali or whether it’s in the trade Union movement in Nigeria,” he told newsmen.
When asked about the meeting’s agenda, Ajaero said, ” in the ultimatum we gave and in the NEC resolution, the issue of NURTW was clearly stated and it was at the time the issue has not degenerated the way it is now. That was why we had to bring it along with issues.
“On the other issues you can see that there were no agreement on any, there is no CNG anywhere and refineries are not working neither gas.
“Nothing has been done on the issue of wage award and cash transfer or the ASUU issues. However, we believe that between now and the next few days, when the ultimatum expires, something will happen.”
He mentioned that if no progress was made before the ultimatum expires, an indefinite strike would begin.