As the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) holds its crucial National Executive Council (NEC) meeting to decide on its planned nationwide strike on Tuesday, the federal government on Monday appealed to the trade union centre to step down the planned industrial action.
The NLC summoned the NEC meeting specifically to take final decision regarding its planned to commence on a nationwide strike following the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum issued to the federal government to resolve the dispute over fuel subsidy removal palliatives.
However, the federal government said having secured the release of the detained National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) members which was one of the demands of NLC, it expects the labour movement to reconsider its threat to go on strike.
A statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations Unit,
Olajide Oshundun said the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, made the appeal to NLC during a courtesy visit by the leadership of the NURTW on Monday.
Lalong, noted that securing the release of the detained NURTW members was one of the demands of the NLC at last week’s meeting between the Congress and the ministry.
He assured them that the processes leading to the fulfilment of the other requests of the NLC, especially wage award, were on course, and would be concluded soon.
“The Minister therefore called on the NLC not to embark on their planned strike, and allow government work to resolve all pending issues,” Oshundun said.
While suing for peace between the two factions of the NURTW, Lalong maintained that industrial harmony remained key to the socio-economic development of any nation and urged the Union to work in synergy with the federal government in moving the country forward.
The statement said the NURTW visited the Minister to thank him for securing the release of some of their members, who were arrested two weeks ago by government agents.
‘Alhaji Ibikunle Baruwa, who led a team of four members of the NURTW on a thank-you visit to the Minister, appreciated the efforts of both the Minister and Minister of State, Labour and Employment, in facilitating the release on bail of the affected members,” it added.
In the same vein, Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, appealed to the NURTW factions to maintain peace, as the Ministry wades into their dispute for amicable resolution.
In line with the resolutions reached at its National Executive Council Meeting on August 31, 2023, the NLC had threatened to embark on a total and indefinite shutdown of the nation within 14 working days or 21 days, until steps are taken by the government to address the excruciating mass suffering and impoverishment being experienced around the country.
The NLC had first observed a two-day nationwide warning strike on September 5th and 6th, 2023, to show its readiness for the indefinite strike later in the month.
In a notice for the virtual NEC meeting holding on Tuesday, that was signed by the General Secretary of the NLC, Emma Ugboaja, the labour movement had said it would commence deliberations by noon on Tuesday.
Apart from demanding for reasonable palliatives to cushion effects of removal of fuel subsidy, the NLC has also demanded that Police vacate the illegally occupied National Headquarters of the NURTW and free its detained leaders.
A conciliatory meeting convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Hon. Simon Lalong last week to resolve the dispute had failed to resolve issues.
NLC President, Joe Ajaero, had on Sunday, accused the federal government of trying to undermine the strike, demonise NLC leadership and to create division among the trade unions, adding that if such time was used to seek for solution, it would have been found and the problem would have been solved.
The NLC boss had said the mission of the labour movement was to redeem the poor.
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja