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FG, NLC meeting ends in deadlock, workers insist on demands

The Federal Government on Monday had a meeting with organised labour on post-subsidy removal palliatives for workers in an effort to beat the deadline for the planned start of an indefinite strike that could result in the shutdown of the economy.

The Nigerian Labour Congress demanded that the FG must meet its demands before the 21-day deadline it announced on September 1 prevented the parley, which was sponsored by the minister of labour, Simon Lalong, from reaching a consensus.

The union had given the FG a 21-day ultimatum on September 1 about the delay in the distribution of palliatives, stating that if its demands were not met, it might be forced to initiate an indefinite strike.

In furtherance of its demands, the NLC mobilized workers for a two-day warning strike on September 5 and 6, partially grounding social and economic activities in several states with banks, ministries, agencies and departments closed to the public in some states.

The NLC leadership had said the action was in preparation for a total shutdown of the economy which would start at the expiration of the ultimatum on Friday.

Among other demands, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress were asking for wage awards, implementation of palliatives, tax exemptions and allowances to the public sector workers, and a review of the minimum wage.

Though the FG made a commitment to restructure the framework for engagement with organized Labour on palliatives, the eight-week timeframe set for the conclusion of the process expired in August with no action whatsoever.

Read Also: Post-Subsidy Talks: Labour meets FG today

Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting on Monday, both parties pledged to find solutions to the key demands tabled before the government by the organized labour before the deadline.

Lalong said many of the items presented by Labour were still under consideration before the final agreement.

The minister stated, “Our meeting was very robust. It was a fruitful meeting. Many of the items presented by labour are still under consideration before the final agreement or discussions.

“It was a fruitful meeting. I thank the NLC for coming to the meeting and for their very useful contributions.”

The President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, also described the meeting as fruitful but said only the Presidency could make decisions on the demands presented to the government

Ajaero said the organized labour was ready to meet with the government any time of the day to find solutions to its demands and avert the planned strike.

The NLC president said, “Like the minister said we had a fruitful deliberation and we have agreed to continue to make sure we arrive at a meaningful agreement within the remaining days of the ultimatum.

Before the meeting went into a closed-door session, Ajaero had said the two–day warning strike declared on September 5 and 6 by the NLC was “a product of frustration caused by the economic situation in the country.”

The labour leader complained that “none of the demands put before the federal government had been addressed.

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