The NLC has given the federal government a deadline of Friday to meet its demands or face another wave of industrial action.
The labour movement said the government had been given enough time to address its grievances, which include wage increase, tax relief and allowances for public sector workers, cost reduction of governance, provision of CNG buses, release of N70 billion for SMEs, release of NURTW officials by the police and removal of police-backed intruders, among others.
One of the leaders of NLC at the meeting informed newsmen that among others, President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, pointed out that the 21-day ultimatum would expire in a few days and hoped the government met the union’s demands before then.
”Precisely, our 21-day’s ultimatum will expire this Friday, September 22. Recall that we issued the ultimatum on September 1, 2023. So, Comrade Ajaero has made that point clear, that the government has up till Friday to address our demands or risk another round of industrial unrest.
”He cited the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, quagmire and asked that the Police and Federal government be called to order to give respite to the union.
”The NURTW issue is within the purview of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, FMLE, which the ministry can immediately resolve.
“At the closed door meeting, after the recess, when the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong, who initiated the meeting, called on NLC to give the government more time to address our demands, Ajaero responded that nobody can accuse the congress of not giving the government reasonable time because we have given more than enough time to the government to act.
”It is not fair to ask us to give the government a reasonable period when we have already done so. He urged the minister to expedite action within the remaining days of the ultimatum.
”He informed the minister that it is impossible for the congress to leave the meeting without achieving some of our objectives. We will not tell Nigerians that what we got is that we should give government reasonable time.
”So, it is up to the government to meet our demands before Friday. After Friday, NLC will take any industrial action it deems appropriate to respond to the demand of the time,” the source said.
Ajaero expressed regrets over the distrust between the government and the NLC in a press conference after the meeting. He said that the lack of trust was affecting the negotiations and the welfare of the workers.
He said: “The strike is an effect of a policy that doesn’t have human face. There was no strike before the removal of fuel subsidy. It was the government that said ask for palliatives, ask for wages and we have asked for it. That warning strike was a product of frustration, up till this moment.
“There is the issue of CNG, refineries working, wage award and cash transfer. Of all these agreements, not even one has been addressed by the government and you want us to meet every day.
“Some of us have been around for a long time and our job is not to go on strike but when you enter into an agreement that agreement should be implemented. Before the warning strike we raised the issues of palliatives and wage award and the NURTW.
“Nobody earning N30,000 or N60,000 will buy fuel for one week. We need to find solutions to all these problems and we have articulated them. Each time we finish, they ask for time.
”They asked for eight weeks, we gave them. They asked for four weeks, we gave them. We don’t know what to tell our colleagues or members again.”
While reacting, the Labour Minister, Simon Lalong said the government was committed to addressing all the concerns raised by the NLC in a just and equitable manner.
However, he also stated that the government has to consider the implications of its actions for the economy and the long-term development of the country as it tries to meet the demands of labour.