The organised Labour has threatened to embark on strike with the slow pace of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with the Federal Government.
The state chapters of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress said failure to implement the agreement before the October 30 deadline might leave them with no choice but to down tools, noting that they had commenced mobilisation of their members across the country.
The Head of Information and Public Affairs of the NLC, Benson Upah, said, on Tuesday that the Labour was satisfied with the implementation of the MoU,
He said, “No, we are not. The government could do better and faster. We issued a statement a few days ago in which we expressed our displeasure with the Minister of Labour and Employment.”
The national leadership of the NLC and TUC had on October 1 reached an agreement with the Federal Government to pay N35,000 to all federal workers beginning from September pending when a new national minimum wage would be signed into law.
The resolution provided that the wage award would be paid to the federal workers for six months while states were encouraged to extend the same benefit to their workers.
The unions had threatened to declare a nationwide strike on October 3 but the move was suspended on the condition that the wage award, cash transfer, and some other resolutions must be implemented within 30 days effective from the day the MoU was signed.
Recall that out of the 15 demands contained in the MoU, only a handful had been implemented by the government.
The Federal Government had ordered the payment of the N35,000 wage award and provision was being made for 55,000 Compressed Natural Gas conversion kits to kick-start the autogas conversion programme, while work had reportedly commenced on the construction of the state-of-the-art CNG stations nationwide, among others.
However, the Ogun State TUC Chairman, Akeem Lasisi, said that the union might be forced to declare an industrial action after the October 30 deadline if the federal and state governments failed to implement the terms of the resolutions agreed with the organised Labour.
The decision to go on strike, he explained, would depend on the outcome of the consultation meetings with other organs of the union as well as a review of the government’s efforts taken to fulfil its side of the bargain.
The TUC chairman said, “Implementation of most of the agreements lies on the table of the Federal Government. The only one that is critical for the state and local government is the payment of the wage award.
“In Ogun State, the government has announced the extension of the N10,000 financial award. The announcement is not a product of negotiation between organised labour and the government. It is the initiative of the government which we appreciate. The leadership will meet with the government to ensure the implementation of the N35,000 wage award.
“There is a process in declaring a trade dispute: We shall call the necessary organ meeting to review how far we have gone and at the same time consider the possibility of declaring a trade dispute after the October 30 deadline.”
Lasisi’s NLC counterpart, Hameed Ademola, simply noted that the union would comply with any directive from its national leadership if the government failed to implement the labour demands.
“This is purely a national issue and we shall follow any instruction given to the state council leadership,” he stated.
The Kano State chapter of the NLC said it would wait to see the implementation of the wage award by the Federal Government before knowing the right steps to take.
The state Chairman, Kabiru Inuwa, stated, “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.”
He said the union had written to the state government demanding the immediate implementation of the wage award to workers in the state, but the government had yet to respond.
“You know we have written to the state government requesting for the payment of the wage award to our members but the government is yet to respond. We are still waiting for the government to invite us or respond to our letter. But we will continue to wait until we see what the Federal Government does. So, we shall take the next line of action if the state government fails to implement the wage award to our members.’’
Speaking in the same vein, the Gombe State NLC General Secretary, Ibrahim Fika, said the chapter had presented four demands, adding that failure of the state government to implement them would result in an industrial action.
The demands, according to him, include biometric attendance, clearing of outstanding 2019 minimum wage for local government staff,palliatives and the N35,000 award across the board.
He said, “Failure to meet these demands, labour will declare industrial action in Gombe State because we have many issues in Gombe but these are our priority areas.”
Sodiq Lawal is a passionate and dedicated journalist with a knack for uncovering captivating stories in the bustling metropolis of Osun State and Nigeria at large. He has a versatile reporting style, covering a wide range of topics, from politics , campus, and social issues to arts and culture, seeking impact in all facets of the society.