Strike goes on as Labour leaders consult
Labour leaders yesterday left a meeting with the Federal Government with a promise to consult their members on the request to call off the seven-day warning strike they called over the delay in arriving at a new minimum wage.
The strike paralyzed government offices and government schools nationwide but failed to cripple banking. Private school owners also shunned it.
The labour leaders met with Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari, who said he invited them to know exactly what stalled the ongoing negotiation on minimum wage.
Kyari assured the unions, comprising executives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC), that talks on the minimum wage would be reopened.
Minister of Labour Dr. Chris Ngige said it would reopen on October 4.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba said they had a fruitful deliberation with the Chief of Staff and that the discussion will be taken to labour. He declined to give a date when the strike would be called off.
He said members of the delegation would meet again on the next step to follow in line with labour norms.
Wabba said: “The Chief of Staff tried to give us detail of government’s position, which we will have to go and convey to our members and then we can revert to him.
“This is how far we have gone, but clearly I think we have tried to share details of the information pertaining to the issue of the National Minimum Wage and how the ongoing negotiation was stalled and also the best way to get out of it.
“The strike, as you are aware, is called by a larger organ. Until we get their mandate, we can’t make any pronouncement on the strike.
“All the discussion we have had, we will communicate to our members and therefore it is the outcome of our meeting with our members that we will also communicate to government.
“We are also here on representative capacity. Even as leaders, they also lead us.”
But some members of the delegation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strike would not be called off immediately, claiming that the government had enough time to discuss with labour but chose to be lukewarm.
“The Chief of Staff was begging us to call off the strike but it is not possible now. If we do it, our members will lynch us,” one of them said.
The Labour Minister on Wednesday said the four- member sub-committee, which was mandated to have a holistic review on the Minimum Wage, could not conclude on Tuesday as planned because some of them were part of the President’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
After his meeting with the labour leaders, Ngige said: ‘The meeting was, in fact, successful as both the Federal Government team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment and the leadership of organised labour agreed to reconvene the meeting of the National Minimum Wage Committee on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018.
” This is to give enough time for the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission to round off the assignment given to it.
”As a result, labour agreed to reach out to its organs of leadership with the October 4th resumption date as demanded by its National Executive Council with a view to suspending the proposed strike, ” the minister said.
The government is also keeping its proposal of the amount it could afford to pay to its chest until the sub-committee’s report is submitted.
Though discussions on the Ama Pepple-led Minimum Wage Committee was supposed to be rounded off in August, the Federal Government dragged it to September.
In Lagos yesterday, many banks shunned the strike call. Those around Alausa in Ikeja were compelled by Labour leasers to shut down.
Many of the banks on Victoria Island, Lagos had full services going on. Cash deposits, withdrawals and foreign currency operations were all in progress at the GTBank, FirstBank, Diamond Bank, First City Monument Bank, and Fidelity Bank branches along the Adetokunbo Ademola branches of the lender