Construction Workers Call off Strike As Labour Minister Intervenes

Construction Workers Call off Strike As Labour Minister Intervenes

* Employers, union reach agreement 

The National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCEFWW) and Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA) on Wednesday called off its nationwide strike after a resolution reached at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. 

A statement by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Labour and Employment (State), Emameh Gabriel, revealed that the decision followed a crucial two-day meeting at the instance of the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeriuka Onyejeocha, between NUCECFWW, CCESSA and their employers, the Federation of Construction Industries (FOCI). 

The unions, representing thousands of workers in the construction industry, began their strike Tuesday. 

They had in January threatened to embark on strike over the non-implementation of wage awards and palliatives following the withdrawal of fuel subsidies. 

They had also accused their employers of refusing to implement wage award for workers in the construction industry in line with the agreement between the Federal Government and the organised labour. 

However, after extensive deliberations facilitated by the minister, an agreement was reached to address the workers’ concerns, the statement said.

Highlighting the government’s prioritisation of employee welfare, the minister urged the negotiating parties to consider its relevant concerns during their discussion on wage consideration.

She said: “There was an existing agreement to improve the lives of Nigerian workers.

“This economic hardship affects everyone, regardless of affiliation. No sensible person would ignore the current economic challenge and its impact on wages. That was why the government proposed a temporary wage award while we finalize the minimum wage review. As responsible leaders, we must ensure resources are used wisely, not wasted.

“This is about doing what’s right for Nigeria. Let’s move forward with willingness to negotiate and find a solution that benefits everyone.

“We are not here to win an argument. Our aim is to do what is right for Nigerians and our nation. The readiness to negotiate and move forward. We cannot as government allow anyone to spend our people instead of spending money.”

On their part, the delegations of

NUCEFWW and CCESSA led by Comrade Stephen Igho Okaro (President) and Comrade Ajayi Adeyemo (President) maintained that the workers are Nigerians and the Nigerian law is binding on all of them. 

They said: “On this wage award, we are on the side of the Federal Government, not the discrimination initiated by NECA to cut us off. We will not let this Federal Government that remembered us down. We are standing by the agreement reached between the organized labour and the government, because the MoU is binding on NECA and all of us.

“We are going to be part of change in this government and will join government in redeeming the condition of Nigerian workers against our oppressors who are our employers”

On their part, the FOCI leadership appealed for calm, saying though they were not captured in the agreement between the Federal Government and organised labour, they were ready to negotiate on new wage terms. 

“This is a family meeting and I want to say that our discussion will be centred on that fact that we are one family. On this, one thing common is that none of us (employers and workers) is happy with the economic situation.

“The bone of contention is the agreement signed by labour and the government, which the private sector is not part of. The memorandum of understanding didn’t capture us.

“We are ready to negotiate with our workers, and I am begging them to hear us,” said FOCI president. 

Key points of the agreement signed by the parties include combined discussions, the issues of wage awards, palliatives and the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) agreement will be addressed in a single negotiation process. 

Fast-tracked resolution: The negotiations will be expedited and concluded within 21 days, by February 27th, 2024.

It was also agreed that both parties will keep the minister informed of the progress made in discussions.

In the light of the agreed upon negotiation process, the unions have agreed to call off their planned strike.

The agreement guarantees that no worker will face any repercussions for participating in the planned industrial action. 

The agreement was signed by representatives of all parties involved, including the union presidents, the FOCI president and the minister.

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