FG, Labour resume talk over subsidy withdrawal

The Federal Government and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have resumed talks to avert the impending indefinite strike action by the Organised Labour over the hardship occasioned by the removal of Petrol subsidy by the government.

The resumed talks, on Monday in Abuja, was at the instance of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The NLC had shunned previous attempt to hold talks with the government before the Congress embarked on the September 6 and 7 nationwide warning strike, which was shunned by the senior labour union, the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Simon Lalong, Minister of Labour and Employment, in his opening remarks at beginning of the resumed the meeting, stressed the need for the organised labour to embrace negotiation while recognising the economic realities that currently confront the nation.

“We must also recognise the economic realities that confront us. As we address the concerns of the workforce, we must be mindful of striking a balance that promotes economic growth and secures sustainable progress for our nation.

“Today, I call on you to join hands in an open-minded and constructive dialogue, enabling us to bridge any gap that may exist between the interests of workers and the ultimate goal of driving economic advancement.”

Lalong also expressed optimism that the meeting will produce harmonious resolutions.

Joe Ajaero, NLC national president, in his response, before the meeting entered a closed-door session, said the NLC was tired of engaging with the government without any positive outcome.

He stated that none of NLC’s demands have been met so far despite the numerous meetings already held with the past and present administrations.

He further decried the arrest and detention of the leadership of the NURTW, whose office he alleged had been taken over by thugs with the assistance of the Police Force, demanding their immediate release.

“The Nigerian people that are affected are the ones suffering and we have made some demands and discussed with the government on the issue of CNG, the issue of salary of workers, the issue of cash transfers and the issue of wage awards and among all these demands, not even one has been addressed and you want us to meet everyday.

“It is not like the issue is not there. At least if anyone had been addresed then we could be patient with the hope that tomorrow, another one would be addressed. And today we meet, tomorrow we meet again. The question is, are these meetings really working?

“Some of us have been in unionism for a long time and our work is not strike but when you enter into an agreement with us and you refuse to honour the terms of the agreement, then it becomes something else.

“Another issue is the invasion of the office of the NURTW. Under your watch, the trade union office has been violated, the Police invaded there and removed the elected officers of that trade union. Someone was killed. As we talk now, the President and General Secretary of that trade union are behind bars. It has never happened anywhere in the world and we are here negotiating. What are we negotiating? Please you need to address this sir,” Ajaero said.



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