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All Nigeria Latest News reports that a critical meeting between the government and labor yesterday appears to have prevented the anticipated workers’ strike linked to the removal of the petrol subsidy and its associated challenges. Despite initially declining a government invitation on Friday and maintaining their stance on a strike scheduled for tomorrow, the labor representatives returned to the negotiation table.

Following the four-hour meeting, the Federal Government approved additional relief packages for federal workers and other segments of the Nigerian population.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s broadcast on the country’s 63rd Independence anniversary eventually yielded positive outcomes for the workers.

  • N35,000 provisional wage award for all categories of federal workers

*freezing of VAT payment on diesel for six months; and

  • N25,000 each to 15 million households for three months (October to December)

Leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) agreed to the terms and promised to get back to the organs of the unions ahead of another meeting with government.

The unions last week  put their affiliates on notice to begin the indefinite strike today to protest the economic hardship triggered by the removal of petrol subsidy.

Yesterday’s meeting was presided over by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Gbajabiamila clarified the N25,000 provisional wage increment unveiled by President Tinubu in his Independence Day anniversary broadcast (which was raised to N35,000 after the meeting).

He said: “There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about the issue of low-income workers only falling into the category of the wage bill. They spotted that and we communicated that to Mr. President and he quickly agreed that all categories of workers will be given the wage bill. There’s nothing like low-income, mid-income or high-income. I think that’s worthy of clarification tonight.

“A lot of issues were addressed; issues that concern the Nigerian worker, 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 wage bill, agreements on committees on salary increment, CNG buses, on several other things, I believe both TUC, NLC and government side?

 ”Hopefully, we expect that Labour will call a meeting of their various branches and executive tomorrow to present the agreements that have been reached, and we pray and we believe and we hope that the strike will be called off on Tuesday.

“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.”

In a statement after the parley, Information and National Orientation Minister, Mohammed Idris, provided more details of the agreements and resolutions reached by both sides.

Idris said: “The parties noted the following: The Federal Government has announced N25,000 only (later adjusted to N35,000) as provisional wage increment for all treasury-paid federal government workers for six months.

“The Federal Government is committed to fast-tracking the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to ease public transportation difficulties associated with the removal of PMS subsidy.

 ”The Federal Government commits to the provision of funds for micro and small-scale enterprises. VAT on diesel will be waived for the next six months.

“The Federal Government will commence payment of N75, 000 to 15 million households at N25, 000 per month, for a three-month period from October-December 2023.”

He added that following discussions at the meeting, resolutions were reached, which included facts that “the issues in dispute can only be resolved when workers are at work and not when they are on strike.

“Labour unions argued for higher wage award and the Federal Government team promised to present their  request to President Bola Tinubu for further consideration.

“A sub-committee to be constituted to work out the details of implementation of all items for consideration, regarding government interventions to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

“The lingering matter of Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State needs to be addressed urgently and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who participated virtually, pledged to resolve the matter.

“NLC and TUC will consider the offers by the Federal Government with a view to suspending the planned strike to allow for further consultations on the implementation of the resolutions above”, the statement said.

NLC President Joe Ajaero and the acting President of the TUC, Tommy Etim Okon, however said a decision to rescind the strike plans would be made after meetings with their various organs.

They both expressed hope that a resolution would be reached, following the meetings and promises from government.

Last night, the NLC summoned an emergency NEC meeting to review the agreement.

In a statement, the Congress General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, said NEC members will meet virtual by 11am today.

Ajaero said: “I don’t have much to say than the Chief of Staff has said. We’ve been meeting and we’ve looked at almost all the issues, all the promissory notes from the government and we’ll look at how to translate them to reality and to be workable. Then, we’re going to take those promises to our organs, of course you know these people here cannot just wake up and review and call off action.

“So, like he said, we’re hopeful that our organs will have a look at them and give us a fresh mandate on what next to do. So it’s a simple one”, Ajaero said.

TUC’s acting President, Okon, said: “Let me on behalf of the TUC also point out to the fact that we’ve had series of conversations surrounding the issue raised and we do hope that by tomorrow we are going to get across to our organs so that we can also look at it and cross-fertilise ideas and see the way forward. I’m sure we’re coming back again tomorrow for that.”

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, chaired by Gbajabiamila.

Others in attendance were ministers Wale Edun (Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy); Idris (Information and National Orientation); Simon Lalong (Labour and Employment); Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (State, Labour and Employment); Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Budget and Economic Planning); Dr. Betta Edu (Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation); Doris Uzoka-Anite (Industry, Trade and Investment); Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan (Head of Service of the Federation) and the National Security Adviser (NSA) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

The Labour delegation was led by Ajaero, TUC Deputy Dr. Tommy Etim Okon, NLC General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja and TUC General Secretary, Nuhu Toro, among others.

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