• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Strike: FG unfazed as labour ultimatum nears end

As the 21-day ultimatum issued by organised labour nears its conclusion, the Federal Government has expressed its lack of concern regarding a potential economic shutdown.

The recent deadlock during Monday’s negotiations left both parties at odds over labour unions’ demands related to the removal of petrol subsidy.

Simon Lalong, Minister of Labour, shared his perspective, stating, “I don’t think there is any problem. We don’t have any fears about some of the things they (labour) put on the table, and also the suggestions and the package of the Federal Government.” He made this statement after a private meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja on Wednesday evening.

Earlier this week, Lalong met with organised labour in Abuja, but they couldn’t come to an agreement as the Nigerian Labour Congress insisted that the government must meet its demands ahead of the 21-day ultimatum it issued on September 1.

Read also:Fuel subsidy: FG-NLC meeting ends in deadlock

The union had issued the 21-day ultimatum due to delays in sharing palliatives and warned of the possibility of an indefinite labour action, signalling preparations for a total economic shutdown set to commence when the ultimatum expires on Friday.

Following his meeting with Shettima, the labour minister addressed questions about the potential indefinite strike by organised labour. He stated, “As for me, I don’t think there is any problem. We have fully spent time with the Nigerian labour, and the posture of the President too is towards the welfare and prosperity of workers.

“We have no doubt, and that’s why, in many of our meetings with them, we did not end up boxing ourselves. We hope that the best is going to come.”

When asked about the strike threats and whether it would start on Thursday, he avoided giving a definite answer, saying, “I don’t want to say that; I’m not the NLC’s president.”

Among other demands, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress are asking for wage awards, the implementation of palliatives, tax exemptions and allowances for public sector workers, and a review of the minimum wage.

Though the FG committed to restructuring the framework for engagement with organised labour on palliatives, the eight-week timeframe set for the conclusion of the process expired in August with no action.