With the 21-day ultimatum set by the organized labour drawing to a close, the Federal Government appears unfazed by the looming prospect of an economic standstill if the strike holds. The recent deadlock in Monday’s negotiations has further entrenched the divide between the two parties, particularly on the contentious issue of removing the petrol subsidy.
Simon Lalong, the Minister of Labour, shared his perspective, expressing confidence in the ongoing negotiations. His remarks came following a private meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja on Wednesday evening.
NLC insists on the strike if needs are not met
Earlier this week, Lalong engaged with organized labour in Abuja, but an agreement regarding the strike remained elusive. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) continued to emphasise that the government must fulfill its demands before the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum issued on September 1.
The union had issued the 21-day ultimatum in response to delays in distributing palliatives. They cautioned about the potential for an indefinite labor strike, indicating their readiness to initiate a complete economic shutdown when the ultimatum concludes on Friday.
Labour Minister expressed hopes for the situation
Following his meeting with Shettima, the labour minister responded to inquiries regarding the possible indefinite strike by organized labor. He expressed confidence in the situation, emphasizing that they have extensively engaged with Nigerian labour and that the President is committed to the welfare and well-being of workers.
He further conveyed that they have remained open to productive discussions with labour unions, hopeful for a positive resolution.
Regarding the strike threats and whether it would commence on Thursday, he refrained from providing a definitive response, explaining that he’s not the NLC’s president. The NLC and the Trade Union Congress have put forward various demands, including wage adjustments, palliative implementation, tax exemptions, allowances for public sector workers, and a minimum wage review.
Despite the Federal Government’s commitment to restructuring the engagement framework with organized labour on palliatives, the eight-week timeframe set for the process’s completion lapsed in August without any progress.
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