The Trade Union Congress, TUC said it will not take part in the nationwide warning strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), scheduled to begin Tuesday.
President of the TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo urged the NLC to intensify dialogue with the government, an approach it has adopted.
“As of today, the need to embark on a nationwide strike hasn’t arisen hence the leadership of congress should intensify the conversation with government so that all grey areas identified could be ironed out within the time frame given”, Osifo said after meeting Labour Minister Simon Lalong.
The NLC declared last week that its members will embark on the warning strike from tomorrow.
In three weeks time, it will then embark on a general strike to protest the rising cost of living, after the government scrapped petrol subsidy that cost the government about $10 billion yearly.
The Unions went on strike a month ago, but suspended their action following an offer of talks with the government, but those talks did not result in concessions sufficient to placate organised labour.
“The federal government has refused to engage and reach agreement with organized labour on the critical issues of the consequences of the unfortunate hike in the price of petrol which has unleashed massive suffering on Nigerian workers and masses,” Union leader Joe Ajaero said.
The NLC rebuffed talks with the new labour minister, Simon Lalong on Monday, as it said it will embark on the warning strike, preparatory for “total and indefinite shutdown of the nation” later in the month.
Ajaero insisted the strike can only be averted whensteps are taken by the government to address the “excruciating mass suffering and impoverishment being experienced around the country”.
Lalong appealed to the NLC to shelve the strike, saying that such action would be detrimental to plans of the government.
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“It has become pertinent to appeal to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to suspend its intended two-day warning strike, as such action would be detrimental to the gains already being recorded on our course to securing a greater future fo Nigerian workers and citizens at large
“It should be realised that the cabinet of this administration was only recently sworn in by Mr. President and all cabinet members have hit the ground running by receiving briefings from their MDAs.
“Therefore, the issues raised by the leadership of the NLC are some issues that I and the Hon. Minister of State for Labour and Employment are being briefed upon. In the next few weeks, we intend to address them holistically.
“Consequently, I use this opportunity to reassure Nigerian workers that this government would never take them for granted nor fail to appreciate their support and understanding.
“We shall continue to pursue policies aimed at massive employment generation in all sectors of the economy as well as look into immediate challenges that have emerged from the policies of the government. We cannot do this in an atmosphere devoid of industrial peace,” he said.
Lalong said his ministry had not received any notification about the planned strike as required by law.
At the meeting between the minister and TUC, Osifo said some of the issues requiring urgent attention included implementation of palliatives and wage award.
He said others are tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers; modalities for N70 billion Small and Medium Enterprises and RTEAN crisis.
“In the palliatives that were rolled out we have not seen anything put in place for federal workers.
“We need a wage award. The palliatives rolled out by the government are not far-reaching. We believe that the government can do much more,” he said.
Osifo also said that the TUC leadership would continue to engage with the federal government to ensure that its demands are addressed.