President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, has reacted to comments by some aggrieved Nigerians who feel the group was bought over by the government in regards to the planned nationwide strike.
Speaking on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Wednesday, the NLC President noted that “its normal for people that actually buy people, to say ‘you sold out’”.
But according to him, the real issues are clear and agreements were reached between both Labour and the government that if the demands are not met within the next two weeks, the strike will commence.
“Trade unions or labour organisations such as the NLC is membership based, which means we have a very clear objective to protect and defend the interest of our members,” he said.
“You know, its normal for people that actually buy people, to say ‘you sold out’, but I think the issues are very clear and I think that by the time we share those details with our CWC, they commended the effort that was made.
“The purpose of every action of a trade union including the NLC, is to try to see how those issues will be resolved”.
The decision to suspend the strike which as initially scheduled for Monday, followed an agreement reached between both parties.
Organized labour, however, stressed that the strike was suspended not called off and it could be recalled if the government doesn’t hold up its end of the deal made at this meeting in the next two weeks.
But after a meeting that started late Sunday and ended in the early hours of Monday, both parties struck a deal to suspend the strike for two weeks.
“We reached accord to suspend the planned strike action, great responsibility for both Govt and Labour, all serving the common good, beneficial challenge for NNPC, we will follow through diligently,” Kyari tweeted on Monday.
We reached accord to suspend¹ the planned strike action, great responsibility for both Govt and Labour, all serving the common good, beneficial challenge for NNPC, we will follow through diligently. pic.twitter.com/vl4u3wQf48
Fuel prices increased earlier this month as the deregulation of the country’s petroleum downstream sector continued to take shape.
Earlier on Monday, Kyari noted that the labour union’s understood the “inevitability” of deregulation and are working with the government to develop local refining sufficiency.
“NLC and TUC demonstrated absolute faith in our country and showed understanding on inevitability of PMS deregulation and jointly charted way forward to secure local refining sufficiency through greater stakeholder inclusiveness and transparency,” he said. “We will follow through diligently.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Sunday implored the Nigerian Labour Congress, and the Trade Union Congress to give room for enough time for negotiations with the executive arm of government over the proposed industrial action initially scheduled to commence on Monday.
The Speaker made the appeal while meeting with the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and the President of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, in his office on Sunday.
He expressed concerns over the consequences of a shutdown of the nation’s socio-economic activities on Nigerians, while disclosing his intentions to interface with the executive for a possible amicable resolution of the demands of the Labour unions.
The labour unions had threatened to embark on industrial action from Monday if their demands for the reversal of the increase in electricity tariff and Premium Motor Split (PMS) were not met.
But the Speaker said it is incumbent upon the House as elected representatives to see how they can intervene and perhaps a third voice, would be able to broker some kind of amicable solution to the ongoing impasse while citing instances where the House had successfully intervened.
He later met with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, to deliberate on the outcome of his meeting with the labour leaders.
Labour Strike: Gbajabiamila Calls for More Time to Negotiate with Executive on Labour Demands
The Federal Government has warned civil servants against participating in the planned nationwide strike called by the organised Labour.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and its affiliate unions had called on workers to embark on an indefinite industrial action on Monday over the price of petrol and electricity tariff.
But in a statement issued on Saturday, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, asked civil servants to be at work, saying the government is engaging with the union officials over the issue.
“Accordingly, all officers on grade level 12 and above and those on essential services are hereby strongly advised to be at work to perform their official duties.
“Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers are, therefore, enjoined to bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all concerned officers and ensure strict compliance,” the statement partly read.
Yemi-Esan argued that there is a court injunction granted by the National Industrial Court with suit number, NICN/ABJ/253/2020 issued on September 24 on the matter.
The court order, she noted, had restrained the NLC and TUC from embarking on any form of industrialisation action pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice.
“Sequel to the Labour Unions for workers to embark on industrial action from Monday, Sept. 28, the office of the HOCSF wishes to inform all public servants that the Federal Government team is currently engaging with the labour unions with the view to resolving all contentious issues and avert the planned industrial actions,” she said.
The HOCSF’s directive comes 24 hours after Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court in Abuja issued a fresh restraining order against the unions, following an ex parte application by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The fresh order came a day after the same judge made a similar restraining ex parte order in favour of a group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association, on Thursday.
The judge ordered that both the NLC and the TUC joined as the defendants in the suit should be served with the fresh court order within seven days from Friday.
The Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday insisted that it will go on with its planned mass action scheduled for Monday, September 28.
In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest the increase in fuel and electricity prices.
The order was given despite a fresh court order obtained by the Federal Government, barring the NLC and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.
In the statement by Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobilise at least 2000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.
Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7am also.
The NLC Secretary also noted that all Presidents and General Secretaries are expected to lead and identify with their members at the take-off point.
Reverse fuel, electricity price, or?
Earlier in September, Organised Labour threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if the Federal Government refuses to reverse the recent increases in fuel and electricity tariff.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba while making the announcement in Abuja said the NLC’s central working committee (CWC) has resolved to issue a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to reverse the increase.
He said workers and Nigerians are disappointed that the government decided to increase both the price of fuel and electricity tariff at a time “other countries across the world are giving palliatives to their citizens to cushion the effect of COVID-19.”
“NLC central committee will also mobilise its members, civic society allies, and other social partners to resist this policy because it has driven many into poverty,” Wabba added.
Ahead of the threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to resort to industrial action, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held an emergency meeting of all the governors.
Following the meeting, the NGF cautioned NLC against the planned strike, arguing that any plan to down tools will worsen the currently deteriorating economic situation of the country brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is coming barely 24 hours after the same judge made a similar restraining ex-parte order in favour of a civil society group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association, on Thursday.
The Acting Director of the Department of Civil Litigation of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru, and Mr Tijjani Gazali, led the Federal Government’s team who moved the ex-parte application that was later granted by Justice Galadima.
The NLC and TUC had jointly declared a nationwide strike billed to start on Monday to press for the reversal of the recent hike in petrol pump price and electricity tariff.
The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has suspended its seven-day warning strike across the country.
In a statement issued by its National President, Biobékentóye Josiah, the health workers comprising five unions under JOHESU and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) were expected to resume work on September 21.
“This is to bring to your notice that the 7-day nationwide warning strike embarked upon by the members of the Joint Health Sector Unions JOHESU) would come to end midnight of today, September 20, 2020.
“By this notice, all health workers under the five Unions that make up Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) shall return to work on Monday, September 21, 2020 across all Federal Health Institutions in the country,” the statement partly read.
Josiah also accused the Federal Government of resorting to intimidation and blackmail its members “using all forms of faceless organisation” rather than negotiating with the union.
The health workers had embarked on the warning strike on September 14 following the failure of the government to meet their demands.
Part of their demands included an upward review of COVID-19 special inducement and hazard allowances; the payment of all withheld salaries; and adjustment of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure since 2014, among others.
The Federal Government on Tuesday met with the organised Labour over the hike in electricity and fuel tariffs.
The meeting called by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Labour Congress in attendance held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Channels Television learned that the meeting which is at the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari is to discuss solutions to the recurring labour issues with a view to finding an end to incessant industrial actions.
In attendance at the meeting is the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
This comes as the labour unions are threatening to down tool over the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff.
They are also complaining of non-implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage, alleged corruption in government agencies, loss of jobs across the industries, high cost of living and, businesses not booming in the light of the effects of COVID-19.
The labour unions and their civil society allies are meant to commence an indefinite industrial action and national protest from Wednesday, September 23.
On his part, the Minister of State for Petroleum said all is not well with the economy, calling for cooperation to fix the economy
While making a presentation on the topic, “Understanding the importance of fuel subsidy on the Nigerian Economy and the gains of deregulation,” Sylva noted that subsidy payment is a major source of corruption.
According to the minister, oil prices are low, adding that there is also a cut in production to about 1.412 million barrels per day.
Sylva who stressed that the nation’s major source of income which is oil, reduced by over 50 per cent, maintained that Nigeria was losing about N1billion daily to subsidy between 2016-2019.
Prior to this time, the country was losing about 3.7 billion naira daily.
Speaking further, he explained that despite the deregulation, fuel price in the country is the cheapest in the West African region.
He added that subsidy cost the government N2trillion in 2011 and N1.3trillion in 2013.
The Federal Government has appealed to the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) to suspend its nationwide strike.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire made the appeal on Monday during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
While noting that the call is necessary in view of the pandemic, the Minister asked the striking workers to sheathe their sword and come to the negotiation table.
“I use this opportunity to appeal to JOHESU to suspend their industrial action and go into negotiation,” he said.
“The position of the Ministry of Health is that strikes by healthcare workers jeopardise the lives of citizens, especially at such times of global health emergencies as now.
“Nigeria needs the service of all our health workers to control the spread of COVID-19. Issues around allowances are multi-sectoral and have always been saved with negotiations no matter how long it took.”
The minister’s plea comes hours after JOHESU President, Dr. Biobelomoye Josiah, asked the federal government to attend to its demands with the same seriousness is attached to those of the National Association of Resident Doctors.
The residents’ doctors, under NARD, also downed tools last week but called it off days after coming to an agreement with federal government representatives.
JOHESU, which is the umbrella body of health workers’ unions and associations in the country, said its demands merited such urgent attention, too.
Both parties had been in talks to resolve the issues which led to NARD declaring an end to the country-wide strike.
The Federal said an additional N8.9 billion has been approved to pay up a large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all health workers across the nation,
This was revealed by Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment on Wednesday.
Ngige stated that the implementation of the payment of the Special Hazard and Inducement Allowance has been concluded, stressing that this has been cash-backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from September 9.
According to him, this will bring the total disbursement to about N288 billion.
The doctors embarked on the strike to resolve issues bothering on group life insurance for doctors and other health care workers, payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries, universal implementation of the medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and state hospitals, immediate review of the hazard allowance of healthcare workers and payment of the COVID-19 inducement allowance.
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), on Wednesday, reached an agreement with the Federal Government, over its ongoing strike.
At a meeting which lasted almost the entire day, the association said it will consult its executive council within the next 24 hours, with a view to calling off the strike by Thursday.
Both parties had been locked in negotiations to resolve issues that led to the declaration of a nationwide strike on Monday.
Some of the issues revolved around the provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers, payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries, Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State, immediate review of the Hazard Allowance of Health Care Workers and payment of the Covid-19 Inducement Allowance.
But the Federal Government noted that eight of the demands made by NARD had been addressed and the remaining two were in different stages of being resolved.
After extensive deliberations, however, both parties reached several agreements.
They agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres now have sufficient Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
They also agreed that the Federal Government had paid the total sum of Nine Billion Three Hundred Million Naira (N9.3billion) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for health workers.
On the implementation of the payment of the special hazard/inducement allowance, the doctors said they were satisfied that the N20 billion already appropriated in the 2020 COVID-19 Budget has been exhausted to N19 billion and therefore, praised the Federal Government and the President for approving an additional (N8,901,231,773.55) to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers.
Among several other agreements, it was also agreed upon that nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action.
See the full list of deliberations below.
UNDERSTANDING REACHED AT THE END OF THE MEETING BETWEEN THE LEADERSHIP OF THE NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF RESIDENT DOCTORS (NARD) AND FEDERAL MINISTRIES OF HEALTH, FINANCE, BUDGET AND NATIONAL PLANNING, AND NATIONAL SALARIES, INCOME AND WAGES COMMISSION (NSIWC) AT THE INSTANCE OF THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT ON SEPTEMBER 9, 202O.
On September 7, 2020, the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a total and an indefinite strike in all Federal and State hospitals in Nigeria over the following demands: i. The provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries. ii. Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State. iii. Immediate review of the Hazard Allowance of Health Care Workers and payment of the Covid-19 Inducement Allowance as agreed during the stakeholders’ meeting. iv. Immediate release of funds for Medical Residency Training for 2020 as captured in the revised Appropriation Bill. v. Payment of all owed arrears of the Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage to her members, and implementation of such in States Tertiary Health Institutions.
In line with the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP T.8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment held a conciliation meeting with the leadership of NARD and relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to address the demands and resolve the trade dispute.
The meeting noted that the Federal Government had earlier addressed most of the original eight (8) demands made by NARD and the remaining two (2) were in different stages of being resolved.
After extensive deliberations, the following understandings were reached on each of the demands:
1) Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): NARD agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres now have sufficient PPE
2) The provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries:
The meeting noted that the Federal Government had paid the total sum of Nine Billion Three Hundred Million Naira (N9B,3) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for Health Workers.
Enrollment was by the submission of nominal rolls by the various Health Institutions which NARD had been mandated at previous meeting to accomplish. The meeting further noted that claims had to be made before the Insurance benefits could be realised.
It was decided that NARD should submit copies of claims already made to the Insurance Companies through the Hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation that would ensure that the Insurance Companies pay the claims. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment should be copied.
3) Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State Hospitals Noting that the 2020 Appropriation Act was revised due to Covid-19 pandemic, the Four Billion Naira (N4B) appropriated for Residency Training under a wrong heading for Medical Residency Training is to be vired before expenditure. The process of amendment is therefore ongoing and is expected that this process and cash backing will be through in two (2) weeks.
4) Payment of outstanding 2014, 2015, and 2016 arrears: The meeting recalled that it had been agreed that the issue would be further discussed post Covid-19. Therefore, no agreement was breached.
5) Implementation of the Payment of the Special Hazard/Inducement Allowance
Meeting was satisfied that the N20B already appropriated in 2020 Covid-19 Budget has been exhausted to N19B and praised the Federal Government and Mr. President for approving additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 Covid-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers. This has been cash backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from today September 9, 2020. This would bring the total disbursement to about N28B.
6) Permanent New Rate Of Hazard Allowance:
Discussions for review of a Permanent Hazard Allowance for all Health Workers will commence as soon as possible after consultations by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment with all Stakeholders in the Health Sector. Based on the principles of ability to pay, this will cover all Health Workers in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Meeting will be convened as soon as possible in that regard.
7) Payment of all owed arrears of the Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage to her members, and implementation of such in States Tertiary Health Institutions:
It was noted that those affected were the Youth Corp Members and House Officers who are regarded as ad hoc staff. For State Hospitals, the Federal Government can only be persuasive. It was recalled that NARD had been assigned the responsibility to submit a list from the defaulting hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
8) Domestication of the Residency Training Act by State Governments:
Recognizing the Autonomy of States within the Federation, the meeting agreed that the issue would be tabled at the National Economic Council and National Council of Health to persuade the States to domesticate the Act.
9) Health Workers in the Medical Centers attached to Universities:
The meeting agreed that these workers had been tied with the ongoing strike by ASUU and negotiations concerning them would be on a different platform involving Federal Ministry of Education.
In view of these Understandings, NARD will consult with her Executive Council within the next 24hrs with a view to calling off the strike by tomorrow, September 10, 2020.
Nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action
……………………………….. ……………………………… Dr. Sokomba Aliyu Dr. Bilqis Muhammad President, NARD Sec. Gen., NARD
………………………………… …………………………………. Dr. Ekpe Philips Uche Ahmed Idris , FCNA Secretary General, NMA Accountant General of the Federation
…………………………………………….. ………………………………… A. M. Abdullahi Dr. Yerima P. Tarfa PS, Health PS, Labour & Employment
………………………………. ………………………… Sen. (Dr.) A. O. Mamora Barr. Festus Keyamo, SAN HMS, Health HMS, Labour & Employment ……………………………………….. Senator (Dr,) Chris Nwabueze Ngige, OON Honourable Minister, Labour & Employment
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Wednesday, said striking resident doctors must be patient with the government as their demands are being met.
The Minister made the plea in an appearance on Channels Television’s special COVID-19 program.
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) commenced an industrial strike on Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic, citing unmet demands such as the non-payment of COVID-19 hazard allowance.
The doctors, in June, had also downed tools for one week.
Mr Ehanire, on Wednesday, said it was “not a good time to go on strike”.
“Salaries are not outstanding, salaries are paid up-to-date; hazard allowance was outstanding up till a few days ago, as agreed,” Ehanire said. “But there is another tranche that is coming up on stream, which we are talking about with the Ministry of Finance.
“What they must understand is that there are several ministries dealing with these issues. these ministries have a lot on their plate. We are urging and advocating for attention for the doctors. We are asking the doctors for patience. We want to assure them they will not be shortchanged.”
The provision of life insurance is one of the key demands of the doctors.
“The insurance subject is under the office of the Head of Service; it’s a civil servant activity,” the Minister said. “And we are urging the office in charge to expedite settlement for those who lost their lives, to ensure that the insurance is well kept.
“These are not things that will happen overnight. If you don’t get it today, you will get it tomorrow. We are going to ensure that all those promises are kept.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Minister directed youth service doctors to operate instead of the striking doctors, as government representatives continued to negotiate with NARD officials.
“The NYSC members “are not to take over, but to support the consultants,” Ehanire said. “The consultants are a category of senior doctors who run the programs and are supported by young doctors. Consultants oversee the work of resident doctors and resident doctors oversee the work of youth service doctors.
“Consultants will oversee the work of youth service doctors to make sure that the COVID centres are attended to, emergency centres and essential services are attended to, and then routine services, as much as possible, are also attended to.
“The Ministry has a responsibility to ensure Nigerians continue to receive health services.”