summons labour leaders to Aso Rock
—-We have to consult labour organs first–Ayuba
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Federal Government Thursday summoned leadership of the organised labour to the Presidential Villa, Abuja to know what led to the ongoing warning strike that paralysed socio-economic activities in different parts of the country.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari said that the meeting was called to exactly know what stalled the ongoing negotiation on minimum wage and not specifically for the amount the government was proposing.
According to him, “The purpose of this meeting is to know what led to the strike,” adding that from his interaction with the labour leaders, “It is the process of arriving that figure that got stalled.”
National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who led the delegation said that they have a fruitful deliberation with the Chief of Staff and that the discussion will be taken to the necessary organs of labour.
Wabba who refused to mention when the strike could be called off assured that members of the delegation will meet again immediately to know the next step to follow in line with labour norms.
Wabba said, “The Chief of Staff tried to give us detail of government position which we will have to go and convey to our members and then we can revert back to him.
“This is how far we have gone but clearly I think we have tried to share details of the information that partain to the issue of the National Minimum Wage and how the ongoing negotiation was stalled and also the best way to get out of it. Government have given us their words which we will also go and communicate to our members and revert back to government.”
On when to suspend the strike, he said, “The strike as you are aware is called by a larger organ until we get their mandate before we can make any pronouncement on the strike.
“All the discussion we have had, we will communicate to our members and therefore it is the outcome of our meeting with our members that we will also communicate to government.”
When prodded more on how soon the strike would be called off, he said, “That is what I am saying. I said all the discussions and details we have heard here will also be communicated. We are also here on representative capacity even as leaders, they also lead us.
“So whatever discussions we have and whatever details we have and the plea and also the position of government and the efforts they have made will be communicated appropriately to those organs and whatever decision we have which effectively is also about how to put an end to the entire process we will also try to communicate to government.
“We will try to do that very shortly as soon as possible. As we get out of here we put our heads together and try to see how to get our organs informed.”
But some members of the delegation told Vanguard that the strike will not be called off immediately, claiming that the government had the whole time to discuss with the labour but chose to be lukewarm.
“The Chief of Staff was begging us to call off the strike but it is not possible now. If we do it, our members will lynch us,” a delegation member said.
Kyari at the brief meeting assured the unions comprising executives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, and the United Labour Congress that talks on the minimum wage which was initially stalled will be reopened.
Recall that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had on Wednesday said that the four member sub-committee which was mandated to have a holistic review on the Minimum Wage could not conclude on Tuesday as planned because some of the key members were part of the President delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in New York.
Besides, the government has kept its proposal of what it can afford to the Nigerian workers to its chest until the dub-committee finishes its work.
Though discussions on the Ama Pepple-led Minimum Wage Committee was supposed to be rounded off in August, the federal government dragged it to September even suspended the meeting of the Tripartite Committee indefinitely.
The development had pitched the government against the workers prompting the current national warning strike called by the various unions.
The prominent unions within the industrial sector had mobilized their members and directed them to proceed on warning strike on Thursday.
Sources privy to discussions which went on during the meeting of the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage, hinted that the organized private sector had settled for N25,000 while other unions had on behalf of their members settled for N43,000 as the least they can concede from government.
The source however disclosed that in all these suggestions of what they could make do with, government kept mum regarding what it could afford.