Labour suspends strike, tripartite panel submits report to Buhari Tuesday

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The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has called off the nationwide industrial action initially scheduled to commence on November 6 to further press for workers’ demand for new national minimum wage.

The President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, stated this on Monday night in Abuja while addressing journalists at the end of a meeting of the tripartite committee set up by government to negotiate labour’s demand.

Organised labour had threatened to commence nationwide strike on November 6 should government fail to accede to its N30,000 minimum wage demand. The federal government had offered to pay N24,000 while some state governments are even offering less.

But briefing journalists on Monday night, Wabba said, “The tripartite negotiating committee this evening concluded its assignment. Agreement has been reached and also documents have been signed. The report will be submitted to Mr. President tomorrow (Tuesday) by 4:15pm.

“Therefore, as organised labour, we want to use this medium to thank all the tripartite partners for their understanding and importantly for concluding this very national assignment.

“And having reached this position, and also the fact that the assignment has been concluded, organised labour also decided that the proposed industrial action is hereby suspended.

“Therefore, we thought this should be communicated appropriately without also any delusion or missing information.

“As the chairperson have said, mutual agreements have been reached and this will be make public tomorrow and we must appreciate the roles that organised private sectors have actually demonstrated and the attitude brought to this process and to members of the tripartite negotiating team.”

Similarly, the chairperson of the Tripartite Committee, Amma Pepple, also noted that the assignment of the committee has been concluded.

“We are going to present our report to Mr President tomorrow at 4:15pm and he will reveal the figure that we have recommended,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, commended members of the committee for their time and commitment to the long and tortuous negotiation processes.

“I am confident that government will give expeditious consideration of the report tomorrow by Mr President and very soon the processes will be put in place to truly actualise your recommendations so that the status of our working populace will be enhanced and they would receive appropriate and commensurate payments for the services they offer to our nation and to the different sectors of our economy,” he said.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, also told reporters that the government was making progress in the negotiations.

He insisted that the N24,000 figure of the Federal Government was based on ability to pay and sustainability, stressing that the state governors who proposed N22,500 would have no choice but to adopt the Federal Government’s figure.

The minister said, “We are making progress. The governors’ figure should be the figure of the Federal Government. We are just trying to carry them along; otherwise, the Federal Government speaks for the government.

“The figures are standing but you know that there are other processes. It will get to the National Economic Council, Council of State and then an Executive Bill will be sent to the National Assembly.

“The Federal Government figure of N24,000 is noted and it is also weighty because it is based on ability to pay and sustainability.

He added, “The labour is satisfied. We have done the needful and we have crossed the Rubicon. The only aspect we need to do now is to fix an appointment to present the report to the President.

“We are reconvening tonight because that appointment has to be made. Mr President has gone home; he is not just sitting idle. We have sent message to the place and we are making necessary contacts. If we get the appointment now, we will reconvene and decide what to do.

“The state governors have no choice now because they have attached themselves to us as the supreme sovereign, they are the minor sovereign.”

Government and labour had been at loggerheads over the demand for a new minimum wage. Labour says the minimum wage of N18,000 is paltry and are calling for N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

The labour and the Federal Government did not shift ground at the Monday meeting, even as Pepple disclosed that the committee would present the two figures to the executive arm of government which will take a final decision after due consultation.

She said the final decision would thereafter be sent to the National Assembly.

Pepple said, “We have concluded but we have a little challenge about Chapter 5 of our report. That is the section where we report the negotiation and the figures we used for negotiation and the figure that we concluded on.

“The committee came up with two figures. The Federal Government suggested N24,000 and labour, as well as the organised private sector, gave a figure of N30,000.

“There is no stalemate. We have finished and we have signed the report but what we are insisting on is that the strike should be called off. We are waiting for the President to give us a date to submit the report. The report will go through a process. It will go through the Federal Government as well as the National Assembly.”

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