… Minister hopeful of fruitful dialogue
…as Ajaero describes warning strike as outcome of frustration
ABUJA, Nigeria – The meeting between the federal government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has ended in a deadlock.
This is as the meeting which was convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, failed to address any of the issues raised by Congress as reasons for the proposed strike.
Briefing the journalists after the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, expressed optimism that though the meeting could not immediately address the issues raised by the Nigerian workers, most of their concerns will be resolved before the deadline.
“I fully acknowledge and appreciate the invaluable role the NLC plays in championing for 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 fuelled the recent labour crisis, and we are committed to addressing them in a just and equitable manner.
“We must also recognise 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, re-imagining strategies that enhance working conditions and worker benefits while nurturing a robust economy,” Lalong stated.
He expressed optimism that a constructive dialogue which has just began will lead to resolution of the issues on the ground.
On his part, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said that the two day warning strike earlier embarked on by the union was necessitated by frustration on the part of the working class.
Ajaero stated this at the commencement of a meeting called at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong.
Expressing his displeasure on the way government was handling the palliative scheme amidst the subsidy removal policy, Ajaero said non of the demands raised by workers, which government pledged to meet have been fulfilled, despite the two day warning strike.
The apex Labour union said not that workers were keen on embarking on strikes but recent developments in the labour sector, particularly the crisis in the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) where the police have taken over the secretariat leaves much to be desired.
Before the meeting broke into a closed door session, Lalong had in his opening remarks said the country was witnessing teething challenges, marked by industrial actions and unrest that have adversely affected the economy.
“We had a meaningful discussion on issues relating to our demands. We equally discussed frankly on issues bordering on the coup plotted and executed by the Nigerian Police against the NURTW, which had led to the sidelining of the democratically elected leadership of the union. Both parties agreed that to express concern about.
“This is one sore area that the Nigerian Trade Union is not ready to compromise is that coup must be condemned, whether it is in Niger, whether it’s in Congo, whether it’s in Mali or whether it’s in the trade Union movement in Nigeria.
When asked the specific issues considered at the meeting, Ajaero said: ” in the ultimatum we gave and in the NEC resolution, the issue of NURTW was clearly stated and it was at the time the issue has not degenerated the way it is now. That was why we had to bring it along with issues.
“On the other issues you can see that there were no agreement on any, there is no CNG anywhere and refineries are not working neither gas.
“Nothing has been done on the issue of wage award and cash transfers or the ASUU issues. However, we believe that between now and the next few days, when the ultimatum expire that something will happen.”
He said that based on the ultimatum issued by the congress, if no progress was made before the expiration, an indefinite strike would commence.