The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, will today begin a two-day warning strike after shunning a meeting with the Federal Government over increasing hardship and suffering across the country caused by the removal of fuel subsidy.
This came as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, yesterday warned that the strike will worsen the plights of ordinary Nigerians and urged NLC to shelve the action.
Despite yesterday’s scheduled meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, it was gathered that a media briefing by the minister allegedly castigating labour leaders, ahead of the meeting, forced NLC leaders to shun the meeting that would have been held at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Federal Secretariat.
The minister was said to have threatened the NLC leaders at his briefing, foreclosing any chance that NLC would honour the meeting.
NLC had on Friday declared that workers across the country should embark on a two-day warning strike from Tuesday, September 5, over the current hardship being experienced by Nigerians nationwide.
But at the meeting with TUC, Lalong pleaded with the organised labour to give the federal government two weeks to respond to the workers’ demands.
Only the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) led by its President Festus Osifo attended the meeting with government officials.
Before the evening meeting went into a closed-door session, Osifo said the TUC leadership would continue to engage with the federal government to ensure that its demands are addressed.
He said, “In the palliatives that were rolled out, we’ve not seen anything put in place for federal workers. We need a wage award. The palliatives rolled out by the government are not far – reaching. We believe that the government can do much more.”
In a communique released on Monday by the TUC at the end of its National Executive Council meeting held on Sunday, the TUC said some of the steps taken by the government to cushion the effects of subsidy removal on workers were welcomed.
It urged the government to increase the amount provided for palliatives as the N5bn given to each state was “grossly inadequate.”
“That palliatives in themselves do not solve the long term challenges or hardship faced by the people, such long lasting programmes and initiatives should be evolved that will properly address the sufferings of the people in the long term,” the communique read in part.
Lalong said the government set a two-week timeline on wage award, tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers to “cushion the pains and anguish they are going through as a result of subsidy removal,” as put forward by the TUC.
The minister said: “We agreed that there should be no strike within the two week period while we’re doing our deliberations and working towards realising some of these objectives.”
Earlier at a press briefing, Lalong had appealed to the labour to prevail on all its affiliate unions to suspend their planned strike.
He said the government would neither take workers for granted nor fail to appreciate their support and understanding.
“We shall continue to pursue policies aimed at massive employment generation in all sectors of the economy as well as look into immediate challenges that have emerged from the policies of the government. We cannot do this in an atmosphere devoid of industrial peace.”