NLC Sets Friday Deadline For FG To Meet Demands

The federal government has been given a deadline of Friday by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to meet their demands, as announced yesterday, or brace for another wave of labour disputes.

Meanwhile, the government sought more time to attend to the labour movement’s grievances.

However, during the resumed meeting between the Ministry of Labour and Employment and NLC, it was ascertained that the leadership of the labor movement conveyed to the government in no uncertain terms that no one could accuse them of not affording the government an ample amount of time to address their demands.

Included in the list of demands are salary adjustments, tax exemptions, and allowances for public sector employees. Furthermore, there is a call for a reduction in government expenditure, the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, the publication of guidelines for the release of N70 billion allocated for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the release of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) officials held by the police, and the removal of Police-backed interlopers, among other issues.

A spokesperson from the NLC leadership, at the meeting, informed reporters that President Joe Ajaero had specifically mentioned the imminent conclusion of the 21-day ultimatum and expressed optimism that the government would fulfill the union’s demands before it expired.

‘Precisely, our 21-day’s ultimatum will expire this Friday, September 22. Recall that we issued the ultimatum on September 1, 2023. So, Comrade Ajaero has made that point clear, that the government has up till Friday to address our demands or risk another round of industrial unrest.’

‘He cited the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, quagmire and asked that the Police and Federal government are called to order to give respite to the union.’

‘The NURTW issue is within the purview of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, FMLE, which the ministry can immediately resolve.’

‘At the closed door meeting, after the recess, when the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong, who initiated the meeting, called on NLC to give the government more time to address our demands, Ajaero responded that nobody can accuse the congress of not giving the government reasonable time because we have given more than enough time to the government to act.’

‘It is not fair to ask us to give the government a reasonable period when we have already done so. He urged the minister to expedite action within the remaining days of the ultimatum.’

Read also: Government Functions In Osun Disrupted By NLC Strike

‘He informed the minister that it is impossible for the congress to leave the meeting without achieving some of our objectives. We will not tell Nigerians that what we got is that we should give government reasonable time.

‘So, it is up to the government to meet our demands before Friday. After Friday, NLC will take any industrial action it deems appropriate to respond to the demand of the time,’ the source said.

Previously, Labour Minister Simon Lalong stated that the Federal Government remained dedicated to resolving the legitimate concerns raised by the NLC.

Accompanied by Minister of State Nkeiruka Onyejecha, Lalong expressed to the NLC the government’s appreciation for its significant role in advocating for the rights and welfare of workers. He made an appeal for cooperation and understanding, reassuring that efforts were being made to address the existing challenges.

Ajaero, in a post-meeting interview with newsmen, voiced his disappointment regarding the lack of trust between the government and the NLC.

He said: ‘The strike is an effect of a policy that doesn’t have human face. There was no strike before the removal of fuel subsidy. It was the government that said ask for palliatives, ask for wages and we have asked for it. That warning strike was a product of frustration, up till this moment.’

‘There is the issue of CNG, refineries working, wage award and cash transfer. Of all these agreements, not even one has been addressed by the government and you want us to meet every day.’

‘Some of us have been around for a long time and our job is not to go on strike but when you enter into an agreement that agreement should be implemented. Before the warning strike we raised the issues of palliatives and wage award and the NURTW.’

‘Nobody earning N30,000 or N60,000 will buy fuel for one week. We need to find solutions to all these problems and we have articulated them. Each time we finish, they ask for time.’

‘They asked for eight weeks, we gave them. They asked for four weeks, we gave them. We don’t know what to tell our colleagues or members again.’

Simon Lalong, the Labour Minister, stated that the government was fully committed to dealing with all the concerns brought forward by the NLC in a manner that was both just and impartial.

He did, however, stress the importance of the government’s ability to find a balance that promotes economic growth and secures long-term progress for the nation while addressing labor’s demands.

Lalong, continued: ‘We acknowledge the valid grievances that have fueled the recent labour crisis, and we are committed to addressing them in a just and equitable manner.’

He expressed appreciation for the NLC’s presence at the meeting aimed at addressing recent labour crisis and nurturing of economic advancement in the country.

‘In recent months, our country has witnessed teething challenges, marked by industrial actions and unrest that have adversely affected the economy.’

‘I appear before you today not just as a representative of the government, but as an advocate for constructive dialogue, aspiring to understand your concerns and working hand in hand to find lasting solutions that benefit all Nigerians,’ he added.

Africa Today News, New York

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