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Deadlock As Labour, Government Meet Over Wage Demand

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ABUJA, Nov 08 (THEWILL) - The tripartite meeting between the Federal Government, state governors and Labour was today deadlocked, as there was no meeting point on the minimum wage demand by workers.

Acting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] and leader of the organized labour, Comrade Promise Adewusi, said the parley was quite frank and interesting, but workers would still go ahead with their planned Wednesday warning strike if the wage bill is not forwarded to the National Assembly for immediate passage, adding that the period of negotiations had lapsed.

The meeting was scheduled last week following the ultimatum given by the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] and the Trade Union Congress [TUC] to embark on warning strike should government fail to heed its demand for improved wages this week.

Last week the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo rose from a prolonged meeting and announced the constitution of a six man committee to examine some ‘technical and practice’ issues contained in the wage demand by labour.

Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole said after today’s meeting that in order to fast track action on the knotty issue of wage demand, an emergency meeting of the National Council of State [NCS] had been summoned by President Goodluck Jonathan for November 25.

NCS, Presided by President Jonathan, which also met last week, is the final approving authority from the government side before the request would be taken to the National Assembly for legislation.

Oshiomhole who gave insights into the meeting which took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, however denied labour’s allegation that government was overtly buying time on the matter.

“Labour gave ultimatum to the Federal Government to take action on the minimum wage report. They believe and, I believe rightly that there didn’t seem to be any action being taken on the report which was submitted in July and that is a long time now,” he said.

“But at the meeting, effort had been made to make the point that yes, sometime has been lost and government now realized that we have to act fast and the meeting of the National Council of State has been slated for 25 of November and the Council of State will finalise the decision and the report will be forwarded to the National Assembly,” he further emphasized. “The good thing is that, members of the National Assembly are very well represented in the Council of State, we have the Senate President as a member, we have the Speaker as a member and therefore, all of us have offered to ensure that once the Council of State do what it has to do, then the National Assembly will be encouraged to fast track the process so that we can have the outcome legislated into law. “I think the whole idea is to convince labour that there is no plan to buy time; yes, we have lost sometime but we have to try and fast tract the process,” Oshiomhole added. According to him, the ultimatum by labour was intended to ginger government into action, not necessarily to embark on strike action as misunderstood by many, stressing that it was now for the unions to decide whether having listened to government, they should believe what they have been told or not.

“A report was submitted in July, labour expected that thereafter, it will be forwarded to the National Economic Council and then to the National Council of State and thereafter to the National Assembly.

“These are procedures that everybody is familiar with but along the line, labour felt that government was not acting on the report as fast as it was expected and therefore decided to issue ultimatum to encourage the federal government and all hose concerned to act on the report. “As I understand, the ultimatum by NLC TUC and is not that with effect from Wednesday the minimum wage should take effect. No, they just want to see that the report is forwarded to the National Assembly,” the Governor added.