Labour to N’Assembly: We have challenge calling off strike now

  • As NASS begs FG to continue with payment of N35,000 wage award to workers
  • We can’t afford any strike now—FG

The Organised Labour on Sunday told the National Assembly that it has a big challenge to suddenly call off the strike scheduled to commence on Monday without reverting to its critical organs.

The organized labour spoke at a meeting convened at the instance of the leadership of the National Assembly to steer a middle-course between it and the Federal Government with a view to arresting the strike action.

The meeting had in attendance the Secretary to Government of the Federation, George Akume; Minister of Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris and Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji; Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Aliyu Abdullahi, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan; President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero and the President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, were also at the meeting.

Both the National Assembly and the delegation of the Federal Government had made the labour to see reason on the danger of embarking on a strike action at a time the nation’s economy is in comatose.

The National Assembly used the opportunity of the meeting to prevail on the Federal Government to continue the payment of N35,000 wage award to workers pending the conclusion of negotiation.

Notwithstanding the government’s promise to continue with the payment of the wage award, the President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, told the meeting why the strike would not be suspended immediately.

Briefing newsmen, Usifo said “There was an appeal from the Senate president to call off the strike.

“On our part, we said we cannot sit here and just call off the strike because we need to report to our people.

“We will take all their pleas to our organs.

“For now, we don’t have the powers to call off the strike.”

N’Assembly urges FG to continue payment of N35,000 wage award

The President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio also spoke with newsmen at the end of the four-hour closed door meeting.

Akpabio, the Chairman of the National Assembly, said he appealed to the union to shelve the proposed strike action in the interest of Nigerians and the nation.

He said: “We have been making appeal and asked the NLC and TUC to shelve the proposed strike and return to the negotiating table to resolve the issue.

“I appeal that the strike be suspended for negotiations to continue in the interest of Nigerians and the nation.”

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, said that government’s position on the wage award was that it should continue until the negotiations for the minimum wage is concluded.

Idris said: “The position of Government is that the Federal Government will continue to pay its workers the wage award of N35,000 that was started in October 2023 until a new wage regime is instituted.”

He said he was optimistic that labour would suspend the proposed strike following the lengthy conversation with the leadership of the National Assembly and Federal Government delegation.

He said that Nigeria could not afford a strike at this moment given the challenges faced on the economy.

Idris said all hands must be on deck to ensure the prosperity of the nation as strike was not the best option at this point.

He added: “And we have pleaded with labour to see reasons with the Federal Government and everybody while the strike cannot continue in the interest of every body.”

The Minister said that government was sensitive to the demand of labour and called on the unions to see reasons to heed the request of the government.

He said Nigeria could not afford the payment of N9.5 trillion based on labour’s demand of N494,000 as minimum wage for workers.

The President of the TUC, Festus Osifo, said both parties were aware of what the issues were.

“We have listened to them.

“We will take the request of the National Assembly leadership to our organs because we don’t have power to call off a strike.

“The power to call off strikes lies with our organs, who would sit to decide.”

By implication, the strike may though commence on Monday, it may not last 24 hours if the organized labour is able to secure the go-ahead of its organs to call of the strike action.

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