There is tension on what would be the next line of action by the organized Labour in government circles over Labour’s plan to go on strike.
The action is to push the demand for a new minimum wage.
But the Federal Government has invited workers’ representatives to a meeting tomorrow in a move to avert the impending industrial action.
Labour is angry that the Presidency is yet to transmit the New National Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly.
Labour has demanded N30, 000 for the least paid worker.
The federal and state governments are offering N24, 000 and N22, 500.
Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson said that Labour will not embark on an industrial action secretly.
According to him, the workers’ union has asked its state councils to hold rallies in city centres beginning from January 8 to sensitise Nigerians on the looming action.
Ozo-Eson said: “The NEC approved that the protests should hold in all state capitals and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja on 8th January, 2019, and mandates all industrial unions and state councils to fully mobilise workers and coordinate with other labour unions for this mother of all protests.
“The excuse that the National Assembly is on break does not hold water as the report of the tripartite committee has been with the President for about two months.
“Was the National Assembly on recess when the report was submitted? Didn’t the House of Representatives adopt a resolution calling on the President to transmit the bill?
“The notice expired on 31st December, 2018. When it was given, was the National Assembly on recess?
On whether there were moves to stop the impending strike, Ozo-Esan said: “We don’t do strike in secret. When we want to do our strike, we will publicly inform Nigerians. What we have directed state councils all over the country to do is that on January 8, they should hold sensitisation and mobilisation rallies across the country.
“That we have put in the public domain through our communique. When we want to give another directive, we will do so.”
But the government has invited the Labour leadership to a meeting on Friday at the office of the Labour & Employment Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige the office of the Minister of on Friday to address issues raised by Labour and to brief them on efforts being made by the government.
A statement signed by the Director of Press in the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Samuel Olowokoore, reads “Towards nipping in the bud threat of national industrial action by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over the transmission of the New National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly, the Minister of Labour & Employment Sen. Chris Ngige, is scheduled to hold a meeting with the Executives of the Organised Labour”.
The ministers of Finance and that Budget & National Planning are also expected at the meeting scheduled to begin from 10.30am.
Dr Ngige was quoted as saying that the Attorney-General of the Federation was studying the draft bill submitted by the tripartite committee along with the report to the President with a view to coming up with an executive bill which will be transmitted to National Assembly.
It was also learnt that the government may have reached out to some influential Nigerians and former Labour leaders, including All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole to prevail on workers to drop the threat strike.
Oshiomhole recently threw his weight behind Labour in its quest for have a new National minimum wage, saying Nigeria can afford to pay workers what he described as living wage.
He said: “This is in spite of the unimpeachable tripartite process leading to the agreement by the social partners on the new national minimum wage.
“It is unfortunate that the Federal Government is yet to transmit to the National Assembly an executive bill for the enactment of N30, 000 as the new national minimum wage.
“Government’s dilly-dallying on the issue has strained government-labour relations with a potential for a major national strike which could just be days away.
“I want to appeal to the government to do the needful by urgently transmitting the bill on the new national minimum wage to the National Assembly.
“We also would like to use this same opportunity to urge workers to fully mobilise for a prolonged national strike and enforce their right.”
Explaining the inevitability of the strike, Ayuba called on all Nigerians and businesses to understand and support it. He, however, assured workers that their labour, patience and diligence would not be in vain.
Wabba said the NLC leadership remains committed to ensure that workers get just and fair wages in a decent work environment appropriate to their well-being.
Besides, he restated the commitment of Labour to ensuring social protection for its members.
He said: “The new year presents great opportunities for workers, pensioners, civil society allies and their friends and families to put their numbers to good use.
“This is by voting out, not on the basis of tribe or religion but purely policy, any candidate that cannot serve their interest.
“In the year that is ahead of us, the NLC remains unequivocally committed to the national and workers’ goals which include the campaign for industrialisation, against selective enforcement of “No work, no pay” policy of government, among others.”