The organized labor leadership will convene with its constituent bodies today to deliberate on the N35,000 interim wage increment approved by the federal government yesterday for all federal employees paid from the treasury, effective for six months,Daily Trust reports.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Joe Ajaero, disclosed this during an interview with State House reporters yesterday following a four-hour meeting with a government delegation led by Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Ajaero emphasized that the organized labor could not unilaterally cancel the indefinite strike scheduled for October 3 without consulting its constituent bodies.
“I don’t have much to add to what the Chief of Staff has stated. We’ve had extensive discussions and reviewed various government commitments and promissory notes. We will now take these promises to our constituent bodies. As you know, decisions of this magnitude cannot be made arbitrarily; they require consultation with our organs. So, it’s a straightforward process,” Ajaero explained.
Tommy Etim Okon, the acting president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), also addressed the media and stated that labor would convene with its constituent bodies today to assess the outcomes of the meeting with the government delegation. He indicated that the organized labor team would return for another meeting the following day.
Following the meeting, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, issued a statement confirming that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had approved the N35,000 provisional wage increment for all federal government workers paid from the treasury for six months. This decision followed further consultations between the Federal Government delegation, the NLC, and the TUC.
In his Independence Day Anniversary broadcast earlier that day, President Tinubu had initially announced a N25,000 increment for lower-grade federal workers.
During the meeting, labor unions argued for a higher wage increment. The government committed to forming a sub-committee to work out the implementation details of all proposed interventions aimed at mitigating the effects of fuel subsidy removal.
The NLC and TUC had planned an indefinite strike starting on October 3 in protest against the alleged government failure to provide relief measures and implement policies to ease the impact of petrol subsidy removal on the general populace.
Numerous workers’ unions across the country had expressed their readiness to join the strike. These unions included the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes, and Associated Institutes (SSAUTHRIA); the College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU); the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG); the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM); the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions; and the Medical & Health Workers Union of Nigeria.
The government pledged to expedite the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to alleviate public transportation challenges stemming from the removal of petrol subsidy. Additionally, it committed to providing funds for micro and small-scale enterprises and granting VAT waivers on diesel for the next six months.
Furthermore, the government announced its intention to pay N75,000 per month to 15 million households for a three-month period from October to December 2023.
The government urged the labor unions not to proceed with the strike, emphasizing that the disputed issues could only be resolved when workers are on the job.
Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila stated that all categories of workers in the Federal Civil Service would benefit from the N25,000 wage increase for six months, addressing various issues concerning the average Nigerian worker during the meeting.
He expressed hope that labor would communicate the agreements reached during the meeting to their branches and executives and ultimately call off the strike on Tuesday.
Governor Abdulrazak Abdulrahman of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State participated virtually in the meeting. Other attendees included Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong; Minister of State, Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite; Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan; and National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
The labor delegation was led by NLC President, Joe Ajaero; Deputy President, TUC, Dr Tommy Etim Okon; NLC General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja; and TUC General Secretary, Nuhu Toro, among others.