Nigerian Govt Reconvenes Meeting With Organised Labour Leaders
The Federal Government on Thursday convened another meeting with members of the organised labour movement.
This comes after an attempt to resolve the impasse between the government and workers’ unions over the recent hike in the price of petrol and electricity tariff failed on Sunday.
In his opening remarks at Thursday’s meeting in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said Sunday’s event was not a walkout but a recess.
He insisted that both parties – the government and the labour unions – were working for the betterment of the nation.
Ngige stressed that the issues at stake, which included the hike in electricity tariff and the price of petrol, do not only affect the citizens but also those on the government’s side.
He was hopeful that the meeting would produce the results that would be beneficial to both parties.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who was also at the meeting, addressed the labour leaders.
He gave an assurance that the government would ensure that resolutions reached would be for the benefit of the Nigerian people.
Mustapha also thanked the labour leaders for their show of patriotism, stressing that what happened on Sunday was a recess and not a breakdown of discussions.
On his part, TUC President, Peter Esele, stressed the need for sincerity on the part of the government to enable the meeting to arrive at a logical conclusion.
He also appealed to the conveners of the meeting to allow the media stay till the end of the discussion for the purpose of transparency
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, was absent at the meeting, but he was represented by the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero.
Ajaero disagreed with the remarks of the labour minister and the SGF that the last meeting was a recess, insisting that it did not end peacefully.
He also insisted that the agenda for discussion should be presented for adoption before going forward.
After the representatives from both sides made their remarks, the meeting went into a technical session.
Others in attendance include the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouk.
The government has continued to engage the labour unions in discussions since October when the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) threatened to embark on a nationwide protest over the increased prices.
On their part, the NLC and TUC have consistently maintained that the government should reverse the prices and provide palliatives to cushion the immediate effects of the hike before it engages them in a dialogue.
A meeting to address the issues on Sunday was stalled after the organised labour movement staged a walkout to protest what they described as government’s breach of agreement.