—— Pleads With NLC, TUC To Withdraw 14-Day Ultimatum
The Federal Government has assured the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) of resuming the payment of wage award to workers this week.
Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, gave the assurance in Abuja at a meeting with the leadership of the two labour centres on account of their ultimatum to government on the implementation of the 16-point agreement reached with them on 2nd October, 2023.
Onyejeocha also appealed to the labour organisations to withdraw their 14-day ultimatum, as government had stepped up efforts to complete the implementation of that agreement.
The Minister had convened the meeting in order to brief the Labour centres on the progress of the implementation of the agreement, and to reaffirm government’s commitment to the agreement.
She said: “It is true we entered into an agreement, but the government has shown good faith, and considering the urgency of the issue at hand, I called this meeting because dialogue has always been the best way out, and we are all for the well-being of our people. I am here to show good cause on why some agreement has not been met.’’
On the CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) buses, programme director and chief executive of the Presidential CNG initiative, Michael Oluwagbemi, who addressed the meeting virtually, stated that the government had made 70% payment for the procurement of new CNG buses and CNG kits. He said while some of the buses are ready, they expect to start assembling others locally including the tricycles between March and April 2024.
The meeting agreed on an immediate joint inspection visit to the Port Harcourt Refinery for Labour to confirm the reported progress made in getting the refinery back to operation.
Onyejeocha noted that while the reaction of the Labour organisations was not unwarranted in the face of government’s non-completion of the agreement, but bearing in mind that some items in the agreement could only be achieved in stages, she hoped that the discussion would lead to the rescinding of the ultimatum by labour.
She assured them of the President’s sincerity of purpose and unflinching dedication to the implementation of that agreement, adding that he would leave no stone unturned to satisfy the demands of the labour organisations.
The Minister promised that the government would keep working towards the complete implementation of the agreement, and requested the Labour centres to withdraw their ultimatum.
“I plead with you to sheath your sword. We have been showing good faith; it is just that it is not commensurate with your expectations; but I promise you that we will surpass your expectation this time, and I believe that everything will go well,” she said.
President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, enjoined the Federal Government to be committed to beating the deadline of the 14-day ultimatum, which started on 9th February 2024, by ensuring the implementation of that agreement.
Ajaero declared their resolve to stand by their ultimatum, and stated that every party to the agreement should endeavour to live up to expectation for the interest of Nigerians and the government.
He stated that organised labour would always fulfil its part of the bargain, so long as the federal government would do same.
The First Deputy President of TUC, Dr Tommy Okon, also echoed Ajeoro’s concerns, and criticised the government’s gradual approach to the implementation of the signed agreement.
He said: “We have a lot of respect for you, Hon. Minister, that’s why we are here. We don’t need to beg government to do what is right. Let me tell you, we, the organized labour, are the ones managing crisis in this country for the government; if not, we wouldn’t be here today discussing these issues.”