As part of moves to forestall a total shutdown of the economy, Minister of Labour Chris Ngige and Employment, yesterday, announced the resumption of negotiation on the minimum wage
Bimbo Oyesola, Lagos; James Ojo, Fred Itua, Abuja, and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday insisted on the implementation of directives to all industrial unions affiliated to it to mobilise their members for active participation in the warning strike called to protest the refusal of the Federal Government to implement the new minimum wage.
The decision came after the highest decision making organs of the three labour centres comprising the NLC, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and the United Labour Congress (ULC), met in Lagos on Monday night and resolved to mobilise workers for a nationwide strike beginning from the midnight of Wednesday.
The organised labour had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to recall the Minimum Wage Committee constituted to negotiate and fix a minimum wage for workers, which was adjourned sine dine on the day its report was to be concluded.
In a two-paragraph reminder to all industrial unions and all NLC state councils, Peter Ozo-Eson, the Secretary General of NLC, stated: “This is to inform you that the organised labour shall commence nationwide warning strike in respect of the non-implementation of the National Minimum Wage, effective from Midnight of Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
“All industrial unions and all state councils are to commence mobilisation immediately for an effective strike nationwide. A formal notification letter will be sent later in the day.”
Meanwhile, Labour in the FCT Administration and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) had called out its members to commence the national strike as directed by the central labour, the NLC.
The Joint Unions Action Committee (JUAC) in a statement signed by its Chairman, Korede Matilukoro, and made available to newsmen in Abuja called on staff to comply fully with the strike.
From Benin, Edo State chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, yesterday, described the recent pronouncement by the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, that the Committee on new minimum wage should adjourn indefinitely as provocative, suspicious and of a great concern.
In a press statement jointly signed by the NLC state chairman, Comrade Emmanuel Ademokun and the TUC chairman, Comrade Marshal Ohue and made available to newsmen in Benin City, the Chapter directed the organised labour both in the private and in the public sectors to commence with effect from September 27, 2018 to embark on an indefinite warning strike in respect of the non implementation of the national minimum wage pending when their demands are met.
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But as part of moves to forestall a total shutdown of the economy, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, yesterday, announced the resumption of negotiation on the minimum wage, which adjourned indefinitely leading to the nationwide strike called by organised labour from today.
Addressing the media after a three-hour meeting with representatives of labour to the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage, Ngige said the meeting will resume on Thursday, October 4, with the hope that all issues relating to minimum wage would be resolved.
He said the Buhari government is a worker-friendly one which has been paying salaries as and when due and had offset arrears of allowances and continued to recruit new workers without sacking anyone, unlike when embargo was placed on employment and promotion.
He reiterated the determination of the government to finding lasting solution to the incessant labour crisis in the country and nurturing sustainable employment relationship devoid of strife and rancour.
However, despite his assurances, Labour had insisted that the strike will continue as no effort was made by government to avert it since the 14-day ultimatum was issued on the need to reconvene the meeting.
“Today, it was this morning that we hear anything from the side of government since the ultimatum was issued by organised labour asking for the reconvening of the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage.
“There was no consultation at all before today. Even today’s meeting with the Minister has no agenda. What we are taking back to the NEC is the update he told us on what the government has been doing,” Ayuba Wabba, the National President of NLC said.
Wabba explained that the Minister claimed that government had been meeting with relevant agencies and organs including the Economic Council, the Ministry of Finance, and the Governors’ Forum to arrive at an appropriate, acceptable and affordable minimum wage for workers in both private and public sectors.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said it has 37 days Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) sufficiency to serve the needs of consumers across the country.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja, on Wednesday, Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, appealed to motorists and other consumers of petroleum products across the country not to engage in panic buying of products over the NLC planned industrial action.
He said the Federal Government was seriously engaging NLC on the issues it raised.