Minimum Wage: FG, NLC, TUC Reach Agreement

Date:

By Paul Effiong (Abuja), SAMSON ALFA (MINNA), HASSAN JIRGI (Damaturu), Nwogha Ndubuisi (Abakaliki), IKHILI EBALU (BENIN CITY).

There is high hopes that the ongoing national strike by the organized labour would  be suspended sooner  as the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, yesterday night signed an agreement over the new  minimum wage controversy.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, signed the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government.

On the organised labour side,  President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero and President, Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, signed.

The signing followed an extensive meeting yesterday night, brokered by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume.

AljazirahNigeria reports that the meeting was convened in response to the ongoing nationwide indefinite strike embarked upon by unions to demand for a new minimum wage in line with the current economic situation in the country.

Part of the resolutions are that  the Federal government will be offering above N60,000 as minimum wage in the country.

The two labour unions signed the agreement thus raising hopes that the strike would be suspended sooner than earlier envisage.

In addition, the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, NMW, is to meet daily for 5 days as from today with a view to fast tracking negotiations to end the strike and resolve the differences between the Federal Government and organised labour. Also it was agreed that no worker will be victimized as a result of embarking on strike. 

It would be recalled that labour had earlier  withdrew from negotiation but the leadership of the National Assembly intervened on the eve of the industrial action and the unions returned to the negotiation table.

AljazirahNigeria  gathered that the strike action yesterday grounded the economy as every sector was affected .  in the nation’s capital, Abuja the effects of the strike  is visible  as  government offices  and private business shutdown and activities disrupted. It was observed that  banks, airport, government offices were under lock and keys. 

For instance, the National Assembly Complex was yesterday locked up by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, defiant workers were turned back ,  food vendors, restaurant operators among, motorist and hawkers were all stranded. The FCT witnessed a total compliance. 

In Niger State, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, shut down the recently re-named Bola Ahmed Tinubu International airport.

State officials of the NLC went round the capital city monitoring the level of compliance of the strike in the state as directed by the headquarters.

The state chairman of Trade Union Congress, TUC, Comrade Ibrahim Gana in collaboration with state NLC and other sister Union executives in the state,led a joint labour committee on monitoring and evaluation of the strike action.

The monitoring team visited Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport, Minna, Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, Federal Secretariat complex, Niger State High Court complex,Niger State Board of Internal Revenue Services, Niger State Urban Development Board, others includes Niger State Universal Basic Education Board, General Hospital,office of the Deputy Governor, Niger State Secretariat as well as Niger State House Assembly.

AljazirahNigeria reports that virtually all the sectors recorded 99 percent compliant.

Following the strike directive from the national headquarters of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its counterpart the Trade Union Congress, TUC, all economic activities were grounded in Yobe State.

Speaking to journalists in Damaturu, the state capital, chairman of NLC, Comrade Muktari Tarbutu, stated that their decision to join the ongoing nationwide indefinite strike was borne out of the fact that, NLC is a family. 

“We are united. We need justice for everyone”, he added.

According to him, Yobe State remains shut till further directives from the mother union to do otherwise. 

He urged the people of the state to cooperate with the NLC on the strike directive and support the ongoing nationwide strike.

Also in Ebonyi, there was total shutdown of economic and commercial activities as banks and government offices  in Abakaliki were under lock and keys following the directive from the Nigeria Union of Labour who directed workers to shun  works nationwide until their welfares are improved.

AljazirahNigeria correspondent who went round Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital yesterday observed that commercial banks, Public schools and other offices were totally on locks and keys.

Speaking to the press, state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Professor Ogugua Egwu commended the workers and all affiliates bodies for their compliance and added that his team are moving round to ensure that no office was open for work.

According to him, “Compliance by the workers for the strike is beyond 90 percent. 

“Our team is moving about to monitor compliance. The courts and secretariat are not functioning. Some banks opened but we asked their management to close them immediately. 

 In Edo , activities in several parts of the State were shut down on Monday as a result of the nationwide strike declared by organized labour.

   Local government Secretariat in all the eighteen Local Government Areas and other government offices were shut down even as a special team of the Nigerian Labour Congress ,NLC, in the state moved round and enforced compliance with the strike action.

  In Benin City, banks were also shut even as customers, mostly Point Of Sale (POS) operators besieged several banks with the hope of getting cash for their business and that also led to some of them quickly increasing their charges per transaction.

   The NNPC Mega Filling State along Sapele Road ,  Benin Airport, public schools were shutdown.

 The NLC picketing team was led by the state Vice Chairman, Comrade Williams Uwumarogie told AljazirahNigeria that “So far, so good,  we have shut down NNPC mega station, we have shutdown the Pension Trustfund, NPDC, the Secretariat Complex, federal secretariat at Aduwawa, the High Court Complex. We discovered that some students forced themselves into some public schools, we shut them down, the Benin Airport in Benin is shut down, the Museum, TCN, BEDC offices in Akpakpava.

 There is no timeframe for this strike, it is indefinite but we look up to the national leadership to direct us on the next line of action, for now no time frame for this strike. We will continue again tomorrow ,today.

However, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has appealed to Organised Labour to call off the ongoing strike and return to the negotiation table in the interest of the country.

“This is a heartfelt and deeply considered appeal to the Labour Unions to continue along the path of negotiations with the Federal and State Governments, under the auspices of the Tripartite Committee that has been established to fashion out a new, realistic minimum wage for the Nigerian people.

“As Government, we are desirous of a peaceful outcome, and we will do everything to make this happen. Yesterday, the leadership of the National Assembly met with the Unions. Today, we have offered another invitation to the Unions, to meet with us and continue our discussions.

“We will continue to engage, and continue to make ourselves readily available in the context of these negotiations on behalf of the Nigerian people”, he said.

According to the Minister, government’s position that Labour’s current proposal of N494,000, which translates into an annual wage bill of 9.5 Trillion Naira for the Federal Government of Nigeria alone is unrealistic and capable of crippling the Nigerian economy, by leading to massive job losses especially in the private sector.

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