NLC Gives Condition For Ending Nationwide Strike
Labour Gives Condition For Ending Nationwide Strike.
• FG meets leaders as AGF warns of delayed salaries.
The warning strike declared by the organised labour was observed in part across the country yesterday. Labour is demanding N65,000 as a national minimum wage, up from the current N18,000.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had issued the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum to resume negotiation or face an industrial action. This was as Minister of Labour Chris Ngige said the tripartite committee saddled with the negotiation would reconvene October 4, 2018.
But labour yesterday disclosed that the Federal Government must do more than just restart the talks. The strike would not be called off, it said, until government makes its minimum wage figures known.
The Deputy President of the NLC, Peters Adeyemi, stated this in Abuja at the ongoing National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Non-Academic Staff of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU).
“As a member of the committee, I can authoritatively say that the committee had concluded its work except for the figures from the Federal Government’s team. So, reconvening the meeting is contingent on the figure that would be made available by the Federal Government’s team.
“It is not just about reconvening. Reconvening for what? The meeting can only be reconvened when the figures that are missing for the committee to conclude its assignment are made available. That is the figure the Federal Government said the Economic Management Team is yet to finalise. They are also saying that the Governors’ Forum is likely to come with its figure. Calling any meeting without those figures would only aggravate the strike,” he said.
He criticised the Federal Government for not doing enough to ensure the success of the negotiation, more than a year after President Buhari inaugurated the committee. “It shows clearly that this government is only paying lip service to workers’ welfare. We insist that the workers that create the wealth of the nation benefit from the wealth. It should not be that the elected officers of the country eat in billions and when it gets to the turn of workers, they are paid peanuts,” Adeyemi said.
He added: “Calculation shows that N18,000 minimum wage is about $38? This is far worse than what it was in 2011 when the present minimum wage was negotiated. Is it not appalling that some of the governors, as we speak today, are unwilling to support a new minimum wage because they have not paid the N18,000? They are busy going about in hired jets that cost billions when workers are suffering.”
The accountant general of the federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, meanwhile expressed worry that the strike could cripple government’s efforts at the speedy payment of September salaries.
He urged labour to trust the president and return to the negotiation table. “We are all working for the same system and we should do nothing that could threaten the economy and lead to the collapse of the same system,” he said.
But the Federal Government yesterday summoned the leadership of the organised labour to the Presidential Villa Abuja to find out what stalled the negotiation and ways to resolve the impasse. The Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari chaired the meeting.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba, who led the labour delegation, however declined to say when the strike would be called off. He said labour would meet again immediately to decide the next step. He said labour used the opportunity to acquaint government with how a solution could be reached.
“The strike, as you are aware, is called by a larger organ. It is until we get their mandate before we can make any pronouncement on the strike,” he said. “All the discussion we have had, we will communicate to our members and therefore it is the outcome of our meeting with our members that we will also communicate to government,” he added.