Paul Obi in Abuja
The absence of the Nasarawa State Government wednesday stalled the proposed dialogue expected to bring peace and harmony to the troubled state where the government and labour are battling each other.
Though the state government did not give reason for its absence, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige explained that the federal government team and organised labour were already prepared for the dialogue, but that the pull out of the state government at the last minute deprived the parties the opportunity to end the crisis.
The minister further told journalists that the meeting would hold next week Tuesday when the state government would be ready.
He promised that at the end of next week’s meeting, “the parties will down the issues and consign them to the dark side history.”
Ngige had earlier reiterated the federal government warning to states “to avoid further escalation of disputes of this type all over the states of the federation” stressed that, “state governments are hereby advised to always negotiate any issue that touches on the salaries and wages of workers, in order to ensure that they obtain a Collective Bargaining Agreement (BCA) before these remunerations are tampered with.”
Ngige contended that “the issue of minimum wage flows from the Minimum Wage Act, 2011. It is therefore a law of the land that must be respected by all in both public and private institutions.”
Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba, who led organised labour to the aborted meeting, explained that the crisis would have been avoided had the state government reached out for NLC’s industrial dispute resolutions platforms.
Wabba stated that labour was prepared for the dialogue, and as it had decided to suspend protest and demonstration against the Nasarawa State government earlier planned.
Trade Union Congress (TUC) Deputy President, Augustine Etafo, said the union would continue to abide by the extant laws governing labour negotiations, adding that the state government failed to adhere to laid down procedures on such issues as minimum wage reduction.