After Strike Threat, FG Moves to Pacify Labour, Says Implementation of MoU in Progress

*Declares glitches in payment of N35,000 being addressed

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government yesterday responded to the threat issued by the organised labour to declare a nationwide strike in the next two weeks, saying that it has so far demonstrated good faith in implementing the agreement it had with the workers over cushioning the hardship from fuel subsidy removal.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration was tirelessly working to ensure that everything was done to address the needs and concerns of the nation.
She said: “We have shown good faith, government is committed to expedite full implementation of the MOU.

“This government acknowledges the challenges faced by Nigerians and has demonstrated sincerity in its ongoing negotiations with the trade unions”.
Both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government over the non-implementation of the 16-point agreement reached with the federal government on October 2, 2023.

 In a statement jointly signed by NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his counterpart in the TUC, Festus Osifoh, the two labour centres threatened that if federal government fails to honour its part of the understanding within 14 days, the workers would down tool from 23rd of February, 2024.
They said government’s failure to uphold its end of the bargain was deeply regrettable and unacceptable to the Working people and the citizenry.
However, reacting to allegations by the labour movement, the Minister said government had progressively implemented the Memorandum of Understanding reached with the unions and had kept its doors open for further engagement to ensure that everything was done to address the needs and concerns of the nation.

Onyejeocha, said all the agreements with labour were not implementable at once, urging labour leaders to give the government more time.
“These agreements, all of them are not going to be done the same day. Some can’t be done in two, three or four months. Like the CNG, it is a process that’s ongoing, and I’ve just told Nigerians what the CNG group has been doing in the last four months.

“We’ve commenced deliveries on those agreements. We’ve been reaching out to the organised labour because the President is committed to these agreements, he has good faith, that’s why we don’t want anybody to shut down the economy at any time because it will affect everybody.
“It’s like you want to pull down the whole roof of a house, meanwhile, you’re still inside the roof. We’re not shying away from implementing the agreements we’ve entered with the organised labour,” Onyejeocha said.
She listed the progress being made saying, “For example, the N35,000 wage award agreed upon between the government and organised labour is currently being implemented.

“However, we have received complaints regarding non-implementation in some public sector organisations as well as the private sector. The Ministry is actively addressing these issues to ensure compliance across all sectors.

“Two days ago, I mediated between the National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCEFWW), Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA), the Federation of Construction Industries (FOCI) (Employers).

“Consequently, the parties have signed an agreement to resolve the issue.”

Explaining further, the Minister said the, “Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) has intervened in the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) matter with the Lagos State Government.

“As a result, up to 80 per cent of the agreement with the RTEAN management has been fulfilled, and ongoing efforts are in place to complete the remaining process.”

The Minister said government has also inaugurated a 37-member tripartite committee on national minimum wage which was mandated to recommend a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers, all in a bid to mitigate the hardship the Nigerian citizens are facing.

According to her, the organised labour has 12 members representing the working people in the committee.

In addition, Onyejeocha said government was actively implementing its plan to go green with the implementation of the Presidential CNG Initiative designed to alleviate the challenges arising from subsidy removal and transition Nigeria permanently to cheaper, safer and more reliable gas produced domestically for transport.

“In line with government’s ongoing commitment to improving the welfare of Nigerians, provisions have also been made for an initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits as part of the commencement of the auto gas conversion programme.

“Development of the state-of-the-art CNG conversion centres nationwide is also ongoing with the aim to deliver 1 million converted bi-fuel CNG/PMS vehicles to enable transporters and mass transit operators convert their vehicles that run on PMS to gas (which is forty to fifty per cent cheaper than PMS).

“Additionally, the government through the Ministry of Finance is procuring up to 11,500 CNG vehicles including buses and tricycles that will be rolled out in fulfilment of the President’s promise by financing them at concessionary rate, even as production and assembly is ongoing locally and will be delivered in the next few months.

 “We shall also liaise with the NNPCL to ensure that the visitation to the refineries for on-the-spot assessment of our refineries is done without further delay,” she said.

 The Minister pleaded for understanding by the leadership of the labour movement, adding that negotiations are often a gradual process, with resolutions unfolding in stages.

 She said the government was assuring Nigerians of its continued commitment to addressing labour concerns and fulfilling all agreements as we move forward together.

“The government would also like to assure the organised labour of its commitment to maintaining open and constructive communication with them to foster positive labour relations and guarantee a supportive working environment for all workers,

“The government will continue to leverage on the principles of social dialogue, valuing the input of our social partners, with the goal of creating a better Nigeria for all.

“We strongly urge the organised labour to continue demonstrating prudence in their decisions and actions as the government works exceedingly hard to address the challenges currently faced by the nation,” she said.

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