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TUC Disagrees With FG On Implementation Of Palliative

While the government said it had achieved 50% implementation, TUC disagreed saying that some of the items have not been fully implemented from their own assessment.

The federal government and the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have disagreed on the level of progress so far attained with regard to the implementation of the October, 2023 agreement reached with organised labour on fuel subsidy removal palliatives.

While the government said it had achieved 50 per cent implementation, TUC disagreed saying that some of the items have not been fully implemented from their own assessment.

At a meeting held with the union in Abuja on Thursday to review agreements, the Minister of Labour and Employment Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha said that substantial progress had been made in all the agreements reached between government and labour unions.

She also said that a joint inspection visit was carried out Thursday to the Port-Harcourt refinery by the organised labour and the federal government.

A statement signed by the Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said the minister read the progress made on each item on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the meeting.

 He listed some of them as the payment of four out of six months on wage award, the inauguration of the committee on minimum wage review, payment of outstanding salaries and wages of lecturers of in the tertiary education workers in federal owned educational institutions.

She also said that government had suspended Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel and implemented payment of N25,000 conditional cash transfer to 3,140,819 households, including the pensioners.

In addition, Onyejeocha said the government had made a huge financial commitment on the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses and conversion kits.

She also explained that the procurement process was slowing down the launch, but that measures were already in place to fast-track the process.

The minister explained that the government had commenced a series of engagements with relevant stakeholders on tax incentives.

Other areas of progress, according to the minister are: Subsidised distribution of fertilisers to farmers across the country, government’s engagement with various state governments and the private sector on the issue of the implementation of wage award for their workers, and plans to encourage small businesses in the country to create jobs and boost the economy.

Speaking on the inspection visit to the Port-Harcourt refinery by TUC and federal government delegation, the minister said reports by organised labour and government established that the Port-Harcourt refinery is 80 per cent completed.

She explained that the old plant would begin with 54,000 barrels per day, which will produce 2 million litres of petrol and 2.2 million litres of diesel per day, while the new plant which is currently going through its last phase of completion would also begin production before the end of the year.

The combined capacity of the two plants, when fully on stream, she said, would be 10 million litres of petrol per day.

The minister reiterated the government’s commitment to social dialogue with the organised labour and other stakeholders towards achieving industrial peace and harmony, while prioritising workers welfare.

She further appealed to union leaders to see strike as the last option, adding that issuing of constant strike threats could send wrong signals to potential investors. “This is not healthy for our business environment,” she said.

On its part, TUC commended the government for the progress recorded so far in implementing a substantial part of the agreement, but differed with the government on some of the items.

They said, for instance, that while the issue of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) had been resolved, that of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) was still pending.

“If the issue of the president of the union has not been resolved, it suggests that the issue of NURTW has not been resolved.

“You have carefully done justice to the items, and we commend you and the federal government, but we expect fulfilment of all the agreements”, said Nuhu Toro of the TUC

He said some of the items had not been fully implemented, but from their own assessment, the government has achieved 50 per cent implementation.

According to the General Secretary of TUC, Toro, “50 per cent is a pass mark, but we urge you to do more. We know there are challenges, but we are very optimistic that they could be addressed”.

On his part, the Deputy President of TUC, Kayode Alakija, thanked the minister for her consistency with union leaders, and appealed to her to back some of the grey areas with data to reconcile them.

He said: “We will appreciate it if you back up the one on VAT with empirical data. You said you got the information from the office of the finance minister. So, we would appreciate it if they could supply you with data on how they arrived at the information.

Onyebuchi Ezigbo

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