Labour suspends planned indefinite strike for 30 days
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA— AFTER about five hours of horse trading between the organised labour and the federal government team on the proposed indefinite strike slated to commence October 3, labour has suspended the strike for 30 days.
Before the agreement was reached, the organised labour had threatened to pull out of the meeting following the government insistence that the N35, 000 Provisional salary increment would only last for six months.
The labour had accused the government team of reneging on what was agreed on Sunday night to the effect that the N35, 000 Provisional salary increment which is across board, would be paid till when new minimum wage would be negotiated and implemented from next year.
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero said if the issues are not implemented after 30 days, they revisit them.
But reading the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, at the end of the meeting which ended about 11pm, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, said the Organised labour has suspended the planned indefinite strike for 30 days.
The MoU also mandated the Minister of Labour to look into the withheld salaries of university staff.
The MoU read: “Arising from the withdrawal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by the Federal Government and the resultant increase in the price of the commodity, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) issued a strike notice which had elapsed and they were poised to embark on a strike billed to commence on Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.
“Consequently, a meeting was called by the Federal Government to avert the strike and after much discussion, the following agreements were reached:The Federal Government grants a wage award of N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) only to all Federal Government workers beginning from the month of September pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.
“A minimum wage committee shall be inaugurated within one month from the date of this agreement.
“Federal Government suspends collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Diesel for six months beginning from October, 2023.
“Federal Government accepts to vote N100 billion for the provision of high capacity CNG buses for mass transit in Nigeria. Provisions are also being made for initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits to kick start an auto gas conversion programme, whilst work is ongoing on state-of-the-art CNG stations nationwide.The rollout aims to commence by November with pilots across 10 campuses nationwide.
“The Federal Government plans to implement various tax incentive measures for private sector and the general public.
“On the leadership crises rocking the NURTW and the purported proscription of RTEAN, the Federal Government commits to handling Labour matters in line with relevant ILO Conventions and Nigerian Labour Acts. A resolution of the ongoing impasse is expected by or before October 13.
“The issue of outstanding Salaries and Wages of Tertiary Education workers in Federal-owned educational institutions is being referred to Ministry of Labour and Employment for further engagement.
“The Federal Government commits to pay N25,000 per month for three months starting from October, 2023 to 15 million households, including vulnerable pensioners.
“The Federal Government will increase its initiatives on subsidized distribution of fertilizers to farmers across the country.
“The Federal Government should urge State Government through the National Economic Council and Governors Forum to implement wage award for their workers.
“Similar consideration should also be given to local government and private sector workers.
“The Federal Government commits to the provision of funds as announced by the President on the 1st of August broadcast to the Nation for Micro and Small Scale Enterprises.
“The MSMEs beneficiaries should commit to the principle of decent jobs. A joint visitation will be made to the refineries to ascertain their rehabilitation status.All parties commit to henceforth abide by the dictates of Social dialogue in all our future engagements.
“The NLC and TUC accept to suspend for 30 days the planned Indefinite Nationwide strike scheduled to begin, Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.
“This Memorandum shall be filed with the relevant Court of competent jurisdiction within one (1) week as consent judgment by the Federal Government.”
The MoU was signed by, Comrade Joe Ajaero, President NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC General Secretary, Comrade (Engr) Festus Osifo, TUC President, Comrade Nuhu A.Toro Toro, Secretary General.
On the side of the Federal Government were, H.E. Simon Bako Lalong,
Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Hon. Dr Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment,
Mallam Mohammed Idris, Honourable Minister of Information and National Orientation.