Yesterday’s meeting between the Federal Government and Organised Labour ended without an agreement. The leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) rejected the government’s proposals. However, there will be a reconvening of the meeting today at 4 p.m.
Sources at the meeting informed Vanguard that the labour leaders did not accept President Bola Tinubu’s N25,000 provisional wage offer for low-grade workers to mitigate the impact of the petrol subsidy removal. They also warned the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, about potential legal action, expressing their dissatisfaction with the government’s actions.
Furthermore, it was reliably gathered that Organized Labour, in their meeting with the Federal Government team in Abuja, rejected the N25,000 provisional wage and insisted on a 200% increase in the current minimum wage. They also demanded that this wage increase should apply to all workers until a new Minimum Wage Act is enacted next year and should not be limited to just six months.
The labour leaders additionally emphasized the need to raise the conditional cash transfer for the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians to N25,000, up from the N5,000 provided by the previous administration.
After extensive negotiations, the government’s delegation led by Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila decided to pause the meeting to consult with the President regarding the new demands. It was noted that Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, accompanied Gbajabiamila.
Among the issues raised by the NLC and TUC leaders were concerns such as tax rebates for low-income earners, a temporary removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel for the next six months, and the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and buses within the following two months.
The meeting, which started around 3.25 pm, concluded at approximately 7.15 pm and is set to reconvene at 4 pm today.
In addition, it has been reported that labor leaders will convene their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting today to update NEC members on the government’s offers. The NEC is expected to make a decision and provide the leaders with a new mandate to present to the government.
After the meeting, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to the President and leader of the government team, announced that organized labor’s demand for a universal wage increase had been accepted by President Tinubu.
He said: “We’ve been at a closed-door meeting with labour and government side since three o’clock. So, it’s been about four four-hour meetings.
“A lot of issues were addressed. Issues that concern the Nigerian workers, the average Nigerian worker. I can’t begin to reel them out here. But I am happy to say that after four hours, we have reached certain agreements that are for the benefit of the Nigerian worker.
“Agreements on the wage bill, agreements on committees on salary increment, CNG buses, on several other things, I believe both labour and government side?
“Hopefully, we expect that labour will call a meeting of their various branches and executive tomorrow (today) to present the agreements that have been reached, and we pray and believe and hope that the strike will be called off tomorrow.
“So I want to once again thank Labour for taking time out on a good Sunday like this one when they should be with their families to come and discuss in the interest of the workers. Thank you very much.
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