The meeting on Monday, between the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to avert the Union’s indefinite strike action ended without a concrete resolution.
Information Nigeria had reported that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, scheduled a meeting with the leaders of the NLC.
The Union had given the Federal Government ultimatum on September 1st else they’d embark on an indefinite strike protesting the hardship in the country caused by the petrol subsidy removal and the fluctuating value of the naira.
However, before the meeting went into a closed-door session, NLC’s President, Joe Ajaero said, “None of the demands put before the federal government had been addressed.”
He lamented the lack of trust between the government and the union in the negotiation process.
Ajaero said: “We came with mixed feeling about whether it will work or not because we have had many meetings, some beyond this level, yet nothing seem to be coming out of it. But I have great optimism in the Nigerian project; we can’t stop trying. We are here with the belief that something may happen. But that doubt, that trust gap is what we feared for a long time now and it calls for lamentation.
“The strike is an effect of a policy that doesn’t have a human face. There was no strike before the removal of the fuel subsidy. It was the government that said ask for palliatives, ask for wages and we have asked for it. That warning strike was a product of frustration, up till this moment.
“We must work together to ensure that we don’t keep on dragging these issues. It is the Nigerian people that are being affected, they are the people that are suffering. We have a lot of demands that we have put on paper for the government. There is the issue of CNG, refineries working, wage awards and cash transfers. Of all these agreements, not even one has been addressed by the government and you want us to meet every day.
“Some of us have been around for a long time and our job is not to go on strike but when you enter into an agreement that agreement should be implemented. Before the warning strike, we raised the issues of palliatives and wage awards and the NURTW.
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“Nobody earning N30,000 or N60,000 will buy fuel for one week. We need to find solutions to all these problems and we have articulated them. Each time we finish they ask for time. They asked for eight weeks we gave them. They asked for four weeks we gave them. We don’t know what to tell our colleagues or members again. We hope that at the end of this meeting we will have something to tell our members. This is a neck breaking meeting.”
On his part, Lalong said the country was witnessing teething challenges, marked by industrial actions and unrest that have adversely affected the economy.
He said he was optimistic that a constructive dialogue which has just begun will lead to the resolution of the issues on the ground.
“I fully acknowledge and appreciate the invaluable role the NLC plays in championing 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 recognize 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 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 noted.
The meeting is expected to continue at a later date.