By Bimbola Oyesola and From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja.
The Federal Government yesterday ordered both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Kaduna State Government to return to the negotiation table to find lasting solution to the industrial crisis that has engulfed the state since Monday.
The government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment had initiated a reconciliatory meeting which held yesterday to forestall the industrial action from snowballing into a nationwide crisis as threatened by the NLC.
The meeting chaired by Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had the leadership of the NLC and representatives of the Kaduna State government in attendance. Though Kaduna Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, had boycotted the meeting.
The NLC was represented by eight of its leaders led by its President, Ayuba Wabba, three deputy presidents, Joe Ajaero, Amechi Asugwuni and Najeem Yasin and acting General Secretary, Ismail Bello.
The Kaduna State delegation was led by Head of Service, Bariatu Yusuf Mohammed and Commissioner for Local Government, Ja’afaru Ibrahim Sani.
The meeting which lasted for over six hours however resolved that everything should return to status quo with the constitution of a 10-member bi-party committee comprising six representatives from the state government and NLC, to engage further with the objective of reverting with a work plan on how to integrate the provision of section 20 of the Labour Act CAP L1 LFN 2004 to resolve the impasse.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the two disputing parties and top officials of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment at the end of the meeting.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Ngige said all contending issues were ‘exhaustively and extensively’ deliberated.
He said it was agreed that all the listed issues fall within the ambit of redundancy and it was resolved that the principle of redundancy as stated in Section 20 of Labour Act, Cap L1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria be applied..
According to Ngige, the contentious issues include the compulsory retirement of workers on Grade Level 14 and above and those who have attained the age of 50 years irrespective of Grade Levels, the reduction of staff strength of local government to 50 in each of the 23 local government areas and casualisation of workers on Grade Level 1-6.
The minister further disclosed that it was recognized in the meeting that the current situation in the state was a result of communication gap between the state government and NLC.
He disclosed that to resolve the issues, the meeting dicided to constitute a 10-man bi-partite committee, comprising six representatives of the Kaduna State government and three officials of NLC to engage further with the objective of reverting back with a work plan on how to settle the squabble
“The meeting resolved that the committee should have as Chairman, the Head of Service of Kaduna State Government and assisted by a Deputy National President of the NLC. The Committee is expected to revert with the work plan for peaceful resolution of all issues in contention to the Minister of Labour and Employment by Tuesday, 25 May, 2021.
“The work plan is to itemize the structure and sub-structure in the state local government of their activities, time of commencement as envisaged, final tenure of the committee or make recommendations if in its wisdom it thinks that the committee should be a Permanent Standing Committee.”
“In conclusion, it was agreed that there should be no further industrial action on these issues and no worker shall be victimized on account of his or her participation in the industrial action.”