Nigeria’s Federal Government says it has reached an agreement with the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) to be given two weeks to address some of the grievances of the Congress.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had shunned the meeting.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Solomon Lalong, disclosed the agreement in Abuja at the end of a meeting with the leadership of Trade Union Congress, led by its President, Comrade Festus Osifo.
The meeting was convened by the Minister to resolve TUC’s and Nigeria Labour Congress’ differences with government and to avert the pending warning strike by organised labour.
According to Lalong, the issues for which a two-week timeline was set for their resolution include wage award for federal civil servants to cushion the effect of rising poverty among them, and tax exemption for a certain level of workers, both in the public and private sectors.
Olajide Oshundun, Director, Press and Public Relations at the ministry said in a statement that other issues on the two-week timeline are to put structures in place to ensure effective implementation of the palliatives declared by the Federal Government for the states and the FCT, and to set out the modalities for accessing the N70 billion proposed for the funding of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), among others.
The Minister declared that after the two weeks, the meeting would reconvene for further discussions, and added that the parties understood that some of the issues were urgent, while some would require a long span of time to resolve.
According to Lalong, the parties also agreed that there would be no strike within this peace period of two weeks “while we are doing deliberations and also working towards realising some of these objectives.”
The President of the TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo, stated that the two-week timeline was reasonable, as it would give government ample time to address the issues.
He disclosed that at the commencement of the meeting, the leadership of TUC was pushing for a one-week timeline for the resolution of issues in dispute, but had to reconsider after weighing governments constraints, stating, “We also need to be pragmatic.”
Osifo stated that their demands, as contained in a communique earlier issued by the Congress, include resolving the impasse between Lagos State Government and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), increasing the amount provided for palliative as the sum of N5billion allocated per state is inadequate to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians.
Earlier, in a press conference, the Minister had implored Nigeria Labour Congress to suspend its planned two-day warning strike scheduled for 5th and 6th September, as such action would be detrimental to the gains already recorded by government in securing a greater future for Nigerian workers and citizens.
He urged the leadership of NLC to give the government some time to address the issues raised holistically.
The Minister reassured Nigerian workers that government would never take them for granted nor fail to appreciate their support and understanding.