Minimum Wage: After hours of deliberations with NASS, Labour insists on strike

Sharon EboesomiJune 3, 20245 min

After four hours of deliberations in a closed-door meeting, all efforts made by the FG and NASS leadership to stop the planned indefinite nationwide strike by organised labour failed.

Minimum Wage: After hours of deliberations with NASS, Labour insists on strike

Labour unions have decided to go ahead with their strike action as planned despite the intervention by the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas.

At the meeting, stakeholders noting that the position of Organised Labour is valid given the general economic situation in the country, agreed on the need for ongoing negotiation to continue, allowing for continuous engagement on the issue of wages.

OrderPaper recalls that Akpabio and Abbas held a meeting with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to avert the nationwide strike by the labour unions on Monday. 

The meeting had in attendance the leadership of the National Assembly, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation – Senator George Akume,  Minister of Finance – Wale Edun, Minister of Budget and National Planning – Senator Atiku Bagudu, Minister of  Power – Adebayo Adelabu and the President of Nigeria Labour Congress – Comrade Joe Ajaero, among others was held at the National Assembly. 

However, after four hours of deliberations in a closed-door meeting on Sunday, all efforts made by the Federal Government and leadership of the National Assembly to stop the planned indefinite nationwide strike by the organised labour failed.

READ ALSO: Just In: Lawmakers shut out of NASS complex as NLC begins nationwide strike  

Speaking to journalists shortly after the meeting, Akpabio stressed that an appeal was made to the Labour leaders to call off the strike as the National Assembly steps into the matter directly with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. 

He said, “After about four hours of deliberation with the leadership of the Organized Labour, we resolved that the Federal Government should re-introduce the wage Award of N35,000 given to all categories of federal workers from October last year to February this year, pending the time the issue of minimum wage is resolved.

“We have appealed to the organized labour to shelve the strike action because of the consequences and collateral damage involved.

“For example, we cannot at this time allow hospitals to be shut down to save the lives of those in emergencies or aided by oxygen to breathe.

“We are very much aware of all the steps taken by the Federal Government and Labour to agree on an acceptable minimum wage and very much ready to join in the negotiation by reaching out to President Bola Tinubu. 

“We believe that leadership of the organized labour after leaving here, will reach out to their entire membership to call of the strike in the interest of all Nigerians,” he said.

Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas said that the federal government would be prevailed upon to re-introduce the N35,000 wage award pending the time an agreement on minimum wage is reached between it and the labour unions.

The leadership of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC )  should go and consult with their members on the need to quickly call off the strike in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians,” he maintained. 

On his part, the President of TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo said “Though the leadership of the National Assembly has prevailed on us to call off the strike going by assurance given to step into the negotiation, the strike cannot be called off by them without consulting their various organs. 

“It is difficult and impossible for us as labour leaders to call off the strike here. We need to communicate with our various organs meaning that the industrial action starts on Monday as planned,” he added. 

However, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, expressed hope that labour will end the strike as soon as possible in response. He assured that until the minimum wage issue was settled, the federal government would keep paying the N35,000 wage award to all categories of federal workers.

He said, “Federal government is more than willing to pay its workforce, living minimum wage but the N494,000 demanded by labour is too high with attendant N9.5 trillion additional financial burden.

“In as much as the federal government wants to improve the welfare and wellbeing of its 1.2 million workers, it is also very mindful of the welfare and wellbeing of the remaining 200 million people.

“Nigeria cannot afford strike action now. The leadership of the labour union should please reason with the government and appeal made to it by leaders of the National Assembly.”

Sharon Eboesomi

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