…..gets Jan 30 date to submit report
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal Government, on Thursday, told the National Industrial Court, NIC, sitting in Abuja that negotiations are still ongoing with regards to the proposed N30, 000.00 new minimum wage.
FG made the disclosure on a day both the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, shunned the legal action that resulted to the ex-parte order that stopped them from embarking on a nationwide industrial action to protest the non-implementation of the new minimum wage for workers.
It will be recalled that the NIC had in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Sanusi Kado on November 2, ordered the labour unions to suspend the planned strike action, pending the determination of a suit FG lodged before it.
The court said the preservative injunction was to avert devastating effect the strike would have on the nation, the economy and the hardship it would occassion for Nigerians at large.
Justice Kado specifically barred the NLC, the TUC and the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Governors Forum, who were listed as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants in the matter, respectively, fom taking steps capable of destroying the ‘Res’ (subject matter) of the case before him.
However, following a truce that was brokered between FG and the organised labour, the planned strike was called-off on November 5.
Report of agreement for payment of the N30, 000.00 wage had since been transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for his consideration and approval.
Meanwhile, at the resumed proceeding on the case before the NIC on Thursday, none of the three Defendants was represented by a lawyer.
FG which field the suit through the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, was represented by a lawyer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Emmanuel Omonowa.
Omonowa told the court that negotiations on the new minimum wage were still going on.
Consequently, he pleaded the court to grant the parties more time to perfect the negotiations and submit a final report to the court.
According to him: “Pursuant to Order 42(1) of the National Industrial Court Rules, the court should allow parties to see the possibility of amicable settlement of the matter”.
Owing to the request by FG’s lawyer, Justice Kado reactivated the order that restrained the organised labour union from embarking on strike action over the minimum wage dispute.
The court warned all the parties to avoid taking any step that would cause disruptions in the case.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till January 30, 2019, for parties to report the outcome of the negotiations to the court.
FG had in a motion it attached to the suit marked NICN/ABJ/287/2018, insisted that the country was at risk of plunging back to recession should the labour unions be allowed to embark on nationwide strike action.
It decried that the strike would equally jeopardise the health of citizens that may seek access to health facilities, and also affect the livelihood of many Internally Displaced Persons currently sheltered in various camps owing to recent flooding that ravaged some states.
The Presidency had earlier debunked allegation that President Buhari rejected report of the negotiation team that accepted to pay the proposed N30, 000.00 minimum wage.