Labour issues strike threat, cautions FG over delayed MOU

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The labor unions have conveyed their discontent with the sluggish execution of the Memorandum of Understanding they agreed to with the federal government in order to postpone their intended nationwide walkout.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress state chapters warned that they could have no alternative but to downsize if the agreement was not implemented by the deadline of October 30. They also mentioned that they had started mobilizing their members nationwide.

When asked on Tuesday if Labour was happy with how the Memorandum of Understanding was being implemented, Benson Upah, the NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs, replied, “No, we are not.” The government could act more quickly and effectively. A few days ago, we conveyed our dissatisfaction with the Minister of Labour and Employment in a statement.

On October 1, the national leadership of the TUC and NLC came to an agreement with the federal government to pay N35,000 to all federal employees starting in September, subject to the passage of new legislation establishing a national minimum wage.

According to the resolution, federal employees would get their salary award for a period of six months, and states were urged to offer similar benefits to their own workforces.

On October 3, the unions had threatened to go on a national strike, but the action was put on hold with the need that the wage award, cash transfer, and several other resolutions be put into effect within 30 days of the Memorandum of Understanding being signed.

It was stated that the administration has only carried out a small number of the fifteen demands included in the Memorandum of Understanding.

The construction of state-of-the-art CNG stations across the country is reportedly underway, and the Federal Government has ordered the payment of the N35,000 wage award and made provisions for 55,000 CNG conversion kits to initiate the autogas conversion program.

On the other hand, Ogun State TUC Chairman Akeem Lasisi warned that should the federal and state governments fail to carry out the provisions of the resolutions reached with organized labor, the union may be compelled to announce an industrial action beyond the October 30 deadline.

He clarified that the choice to go on strike would be based on the results of the meetings for consultation with other union organizations and an assessment of the government’s actions to uphold its end of the agreement.

The TUC leader stated, “The Federal Government is responsible for implementing the majority of the agreements,” in an interview with our correspondent on Tuesday. The salary award payment is the only one that matters to the state and local governments.

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“The government of Ogun State has declared that the N10,000 financial prize will be extended. The declaration is not the result of discussions between the government and organized labor. We are grateful for the government’s initiative. In order to guarantee that the N35,000 pay award is implemented, the leadership will meet with the administration.

“There is a procedure for naming a trade dispute: We will convene the relevant organ meeting to assess our progress and simultaneously explore the options of naming a trade dispute beyond the October 30 deadline.”

Comparable to Lasisi, Hameed Ademola of the NLC just stated that in the event that the government did not carry out the labor demands, the union would abide by any instruction from its national leadership.

He declared, “This is purely a national issue, and we shall obey any instruction given to the leadership of the state council.”

The NLC branch in Kano State declared that it would determine the appropriate course of action only after witnessing the federal government execute the pay award.

“We shall wait to see if the Federal Government implements the wage award to its workers because we don’t want to say the action we will take until after we’re sure of what the Federal Government does,” said Kabiru Inuwa, the state chairman.

He stated that although the union had written to the state government requesting that the salary award be implemented for state workers immediately, the government had not yet replied.

“As you are aware, we have written to the state government demanding that the salary award be paid to our members; however, as of right now, the government has not replied. We are still awaiting an invitation or a response from the government to our letter. However, we’ll hold off until we see what the federal government decides to do. In the event that the state government does not carry out the pay award to our members, we will proceed to the next course of action.

In a same spirit, Ibrahim Fika, the general secretary of the Gombe State NLC, stated that the chapter had made four requests and that industrial action would ensue if the state government did not carry them out.

He stated that the demands included biometric attendance, payment of the overdue 2019 minimum wage for local government employees, palliative care, and the N35,000 prize for all.

“Labor will declare industrial action in Gombe State if these demands are not met. We have many issues in Gombe, but these are our priority areas.” he declared.

The Benue State leadership of the NLC and TUC commented on the delay in implementing the demands and said they would be happy to follow any instructions from their respective unions’ national secretariats.

The chairs of the NLC and TUC, Terungwa Igbe and Gideon Akaa, respectively, stated in separate phone interviews that they would follow any orders from their unions.

Igbe claimed that the state administration had not yet replied to his letter requesting that the N35,000 pay award be put into effect.

Following our joint letter to the state administration over the N35,000 wage award, we have not heard back from them. We have no choice than to comply with the union’s demands for a strike whenever they arise, Igbe stated.

As far as I’m aware, neither the N35,000 salary award nor palliatives have received a response, stated the TUC chief. Meanwhile, the media reported that the state government had committed to using a portion of the N2 billion palliative to cover the cost of students’ external exams. We think that will be advantageous for the workers’ children.

When asked what the union would do next if the government didn’t follow through on the deal, Akaa replied, “We’re going to do whatever our mother union says.”

But Sokoto State unions announced that they would soon get up again with the state government to discuss putting the Memorandum of Understanding that was agreed with the federal government into action.

“We hope to discuss some of those topics brought up in our letter during a meeting this week. The governor is already aware of every concern. Regarding the strike’s restart, TUC secretary Hamisu Hussain revealed, “Even if all of our demands are not satisfied at the state level, we will unquestionably wait for the directive from the national headquarters on when to commence strike.”

Checks revealed that the N35,000 award to the state’s workers had not yet been paid by the Kwara State government.

On Tuesday, Tunde Joseph, the state’s TUC chairman, verified that the government had not replied to the letter of request that had been submitted to it.

“We sent a reminder last week and a letter to Governor Mallam AbdulRaman AbdulRazaq regarding worker rewards on October 4, but neither letter has received a response from the government yet. Joseph said, “We are still waiting for the government to respond to our request regarding the awards.” He said that the union’s national leadership would decide whether to go on strike in the event that the government refuses to carry out the agreement.

The state administration has not yet contacted organized labor, according to state NLC Chairman Saheed Olayinka.

“Whatever steps we take would depend on their decision at the national level, even though they haven’t invited us to a meeting yet,” he said.

NLC Chairman for Bauchi State Dauda Shuaibu lamented the delay in the Memorandum of Understanding’s implementation, saying that the state’s employees would be forced to participate in any walkout called by the leadership.

None of the commitments have been met by the state administration. As you are aware, there are general and specific demands. The demands are specific in that they call for the state councils to begin debating the matter of pay (raise).

“We sent a letter to the state government, but we never received a response. He bemoaned, “We reminded them, but they didn’t call us or take any action.

When asked if they would still adhere to the October 30 deadline, he responded, “You know that the strike is a nationwide strike, so we will join if they give a directive on the strike after the ultimatum expires.” We shall follow the national secretariat’s instructions; we will comply with their commands and adhere to the deadline of October 30.

The creation of a minimum wage committee, however, is not presently a problem, according to NLC spokesman Upah, because the new minimum wage’s implementation is not expected to begin until 2024.

The next year is when the minimum wage is legally required to be paid. Therefore, it cannot be a problem at this time to form a new committee, he said.

As the Premium Motor Spirit subsidy was eliminated, NLC President Joe Ajaero declared that the minimum wage may be raised to N200,000 or N100,000.
Many considerations will be taken into account when setting a new minimum wage, according to the head of the NLC.

When we talk about it, certain factors like inflation and the cost of living will come up. Everything else would factor in,” he continued. “We wouldn’t go and demand N65,000,” he continued. “We would aim for a reasonable amount because N65,000 is roughly $70, which is not up to the minimum wage.”

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