By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – LEADER of the Federal Government Negotiation Team and Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige Tuesday met in a closed-door with the leadership of the United Labour Congress, ULC, at the Minister’s Conference Hall.
Though the outcome of the meeting was not made public, it was agreed by the two parties to have a joint press briefing tomorrow at the Ministry of Labour and Employment office.
There was a little drama earlier when the leader of ULC in the meeting and President of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Comrade Igwe Achese had threatened to shun the meeting without if the President of ULC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, was not part of the meeting.
Achese who is the Deputy President of ULC later after four hours appeared at the Confererence room of the Minister of Labour and Employment at about 4:08pm with some members of ULC adorned in the union attire.
Before his arrival, Senator Ngige, who initiated the negotiation meeting, had mandated the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Bolaji Adebiyi, to interface with the NUPENG Secretary who led the Union’s delegation in absence of Achese.
Recall that the Minister had threatened to invoke relevant labour laws on the promoters of ULC, which he described as an illegal federation of trade unions. He also urged Nigerian workers to shun call by ULC to embark on nationwide strike.
At what appeared to be a conciliatory meeting chaired by the Minister ended at 8:13pm.
It was gathered that the meeting held with the Minister as arbitrator of labour dispute was a follow-up to the ear!ier meeting held with the Director of Department of State Security Service on Monday, 18th September, 2017 and early hours of Tuesday (today).
Some of the ULC chieftains who attended the meeting expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the negotiation aimed at ending the nationwide strike.
While assuring not to trade words with the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), they maintained that the private sector remains critical in the Nigerian economy.
“You know the role played by the private sector during various challenging periods of this country including the June 12 clamour and pro-democracy campaign. For us, we need not join issues with any of them, they need us, but we don’t need them,” one of the labour leaders said at the sideline of the meeting.
Present at the meeting were: Otori Malik Saliu, ULC Auditor and National President of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigerian (ISSSAN); Joseph Ogbebor, NUPENG General Secretary; Williams Akporeha; Chairman, ULC chapter, Delta State and Didi Adodo, ULC General Secretary.
A source privy to negotiation told Vanguard that the main issues discussed at the meeting bothered on the legality of ULC registration, adding that any extant Act of Parliament that contravenes the provisions of the 1999 Constitution is null and void.
According to them, all antics being played to blackmail ULC leaders and other affiliates have been burgled.
When asked whether the meeting was deadlock, Achese who affirmed that the parties would meet tomorrow, simply stated that “we are making progress on all fronts.”