The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Monday said that it is only the presidency and not the Ministry of Labour and Employment that can take decisions on some of the contentious issues that led to the warning strike such as wage award, the issue of CNG, refineries and others.
This is as the Federal Government and the NLC have agreed to continue talks over post-subsidy removal palliatives for workers before the expiration of the 21 day ultimatum issued by labour.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong as well as the Minister of State, Nkeiruka Onyejecha, met with the leadership of the NLC at the ministry’s headquarters, Abuja on how to resolve the rift between government and workers over the removal of petrol subsidy that has led to untold hardship in the country.
Speaking after the meeting, the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, noted that the Ministers of Labour and Employment have carried out their expected roles by conciliating between labour and government but that the onus was on the presidency to take decisions on the issues at stake.
Ajaero said, “There is a larger committee that has set up technical committees. The ministry has performed its role to mediate and conciliate in the problem between us and the federal government.
There is an inter-ministerial committee at the presidency level which is supposed to address these issues.
“The ministry of labour can’t address wage award, the issue of CNG, refineries and others. The ministry has mediated to ensure that there is no problem or get both parties to resolve these issues.
“We are ready to engage the government whether in the night or day; we are ready to engage but not at gunpoint.”
At the meeting, both parties pledged to find solutions to key demands tabled before the government by the organised labour before the deadline.
But Ajaero told journalists after the meeting that only the presidency can take decisions on the demands presented to the government.
The labour leader described the meeting as “fruitful.”
Some of the demands of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress included: wage award, tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers, provision of Compressed Natural Gas buses, release of modalities for the N70 billion for Small and Medium Enterprises, release of officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers by the police, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria crisis in Lagos, among others.
The NLC president said: “Like the minister said we had a fruitful deliberation and we have agreed to continue to make sure we arrive at meaningful agreement within the remaining days of the ultimatum.
“We equally discussed frankly the issue bordering the coup floated and executed by the Nigeria Police against the National Union of Road Transport Workers which has led to the detention of their democratically elected national officers and both parties agreed to show concern towards the resolution of the matter. It is one sore area that the trade union movement in Nigeria is not ready to compromise. Whether a coup in the trade union movement or in the polity. It must be condemned; whether it is in Niger Republic, Congo or Mali or in the trade union movement in Nigeria.
“On the other issue you can see that there is no agreement or implementation on any. There is no CNG anywhere. Refineries are not working. No agreement on wage award. Those are the issues we believe that something will happen before the ultimatum expires. It is possible that something will happen.
“We had a convivial deliberation with the minister and we hope that even if it is remaining one day we will get to the root of all these problems. Whenever we are invited we will be there. Both parties will work towards the realisation of these objectives before the last minute of the ultimatum.”