*Minister moves to stave off another strike
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Ugo Aliogo in Lagos
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday, disclosed its readiness to attend a meeting called by the federal government for Monday to try to prevent an indefinite strike by the congress in protest at unresolved issues relating to fuel subsidy removal.
A top NLC member, who pleaded to remain anonymous, told THISDAY that the meeting with Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, would focus on the massive suffering and hunger in the country caused by the increase in fuel prices. The source said it was for this reason that the union went on warning strike on September 5 and 6.
The source also stated that should the federal government fail to comply with NLC’s demands, workers would embark on the indefinite strike from September 22.
The meeting would as well discuss the invasion and occupation of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) headquarters in Abuja by the Nigeria Police.
The union had accused the federal government of failure to implement some of the resolutions from previous meetings.
Lalong, yesterday, invited the NLC leadership for a meeting today to try to resolve the issues.
A statement by Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said the minister invited NLC for another meeting over its planned indefinite strike.
The statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, read, “Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr. Simon Bako Lalong, who sent the invite to the leadership of the NLC, specifically, directed the Department of Trade Unions Services and Industrial Relations to convene a meeting with the leadership of the organised labour for Monday, September 18, 2023.
“The minister, who directed the Department of Trade Unions Services and Industrial Relations to convene a meeting with the leadership of the NLC for Monday 18th September 2023, said it was important that the unions sit with government to resolve all pending matters to avert further disruption to the economy.”
The minister also said the administration of President Bola Tinubu would always engage the organised labour and respond to its concerns after due consultation and negotiations in order to guarantee industrial harmony, which is critical to the attainment of the Renewed Hope Agenda.
Lalong had earlier met with the two main labour centres in the country, NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC), for talks to avert the two-day warning strike the took place September 5 and 6, but only TUC showed up for the meeting. NLC had boycotted the meeting after accusing the federal government of not showing seriousness in the negotiation.
Following its displeasure over the delay in talks with the federal government, NLC had issued a 21-day ultimatum within which government should come up with palliatives to cushion the effect of the fuel price hike or face a total and indefinite strike.
In a statement issued to mark an end to the two-day warning strike, NLC President, Joe Ajaero, had told workers, “In the event that the government fails to provide the appropriate responses to our demands, we encourage you to maintain your steadfast resolve. The same passion and determination that fuelled this warning strike will be crucial if we find ourselves compelled to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike.
“NEC in session of NLC resolved to embark on a total and indefinite shutdown of the nation within 14 working days or 21 days from today until steps are taken by the government to address the excruciating mass suffering and the impoverishment experienced around the country.”