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SGF, Labour In Closed-door Meeting To Stop Workers’ Strike

In a crucial development, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, is currently engaged in a closed-door meeting with the leadership of the Organised Labour to halt the ongoing strike action by workers.

This meeting involves key representatives from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).

A reliable source disclosed to Vanguard, “The NLC and TUC have been invited for this meeting. We are here now to hear from them.”

Although the specific agenda of the meeting has not been officially disclosed, it is widely believed to be focused on issues surrounding the national minimum wage and the ongoing nationwide strike.

Recall that LEADERSHIP earlier reported that the Labour declared an indefinite nationwide strike starting from Monday, June 3. The decision was driven by the federal government’s failure to finalise negotiations on a new national minimum wage and its refusal to reverse the recent hike in electricity tariffs.

In an eight-point resolution, NLC President Joe Ajaero and TUC President Festus Osifo expressed their frustration over the continuous absence of state governors and the lack of a federal representative with the authority to make binding commitments.

Addressing the issue on behalf of the two labour centres, TUC President Festus Osifo stated, “NLC and TUC express grave concern and disappointment over the Federal Government’s failure to conclude and pass into law a new National Minimum Wage Act and reverse the vexatious hike in electricity tariff to N65/kWh. Today’s meeting further demonstrated the unseriousness and apparent contempt with which the Nigerian state holds the demands of Nigerian workers and people. No governor was present, and Ministers were absent except for the Minister of State for Labour and Employment who doubles as a conciliator.”

He further lamented, “There was none present on the side of the government with appropriate authority to commit them to any outcome; in essence, the government abandoned the meeting.”

The Labour leaders reminded the public of their ultimatum issued during the May Day celebrations on May 1, 2024, demanding the conclusion of the minimum wage negotiation by the end of the month. They emphasised the government’s lack of significant progress or commitment to addressing their demands, including reversing the electricity tariff hike from N225/kWh back to N65/kWh and ending the categorization of consumers into Bands.

Osifo reiterated, “Nigerian workers, who are the backbone of our nation’s economy, deserve fair and decent wages that reflect the current economic realities. It is disheartening that despite our repeated calls and the clear ultimatum issued, the government continues to neglect its responsibility to the workforce. It has rather than engage in dialogue, persistently raised its attack dogs to seek to denigrate and intimidate trade union leaders.”

He concluded with a firm stance, “In light of this persistent inaction, we, the NLC and TUC, hereby issue a notice of commencement of an indefinite nationwide strike to the Federal Government. We reiterate that since the National Minimum Wage negotiation exercise has not been concluded and the agreed wage passed into law; the hike in electricity tariff has not been reversed and the categorization of consumers into Bands has not stopped as demanded; Nigerian workers are compelled by these failures to embark on an indefinite nationwide industrial action beginning on Monday, the 3rd of June, 2024 to press home our demands.”

The NLC and TUC have called on their affiliates, state councils, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), market men and women, and the general populace to prepare for decisive action. They emphasised that the welfare of Nigerian workers and people was non-negotiable, and they were ready to take all necessary steps to ensure their rights are protected and their voices heard.

SAHEL REPORTERS.

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