By Muhammadu Sabiu
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chose to boycott a crucial meeting convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, in an attempt to avert the two-day warning strike set in motion by organized labor.
The strike notice, issued last Friday by the NLC, was in response to the ongoing hardships faced by Nigerians due to the removal of the petrol subsidy.
Affiliate unions of the NLC, including the National Union of Air Transport Employees, the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, have jointly directed all stakeholders within the aviation sector to comply with the NLC’s directive to participate in the strike.
Phone calls and text messages made to NLC President Joe Ajaero and General Secretary Emmanuel Ugboaja, seeking clarification on their boycott of the meeting, remained unanswered.
However, only the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), led by its President Festus Osifo, attended the meeting with government officials.
Osifo emphasized the TUC’s commitment to engaging with the federal government to ensure that the demands of workers are met, particularly with regards to wage awards and palliatives.
Osifo expressed disappointment in the government’s current palliatives, stating that they do not sufficiently address the challenges faced by federal workers.
He called for an increase in the allocated funds for palliatives, which he described as “grossly inadequate.”
In a communique issued by the TUC at the conclusion of its National Executive Council meeting on Sunday, the organization welcomed some of the government’s efforts to alleviate the impact of subsidy removal on workers.
However, it emphasized the need for long-term solutions beyond palliatives.Minister Lalong, during the meeting, outlined the government’s commitment to addressing workers’ concerns.
He set a two-week timeline for wage awards, tax exemptions, and allowances for public sector workers to mitigate the hardships arising from subsidy removal.
Lalong pleaded with the labor unions to convince their affiliate unions to suspend the impending strike.
He reassured workers that the government values their support and understanding, emphasizing the importance of industrial peace for the nation’s progress.
The situation remains tense as the NLC’s boycott and the involvement of affiliate unions in the strike bring the nation to the brink of a major labor dispute.
Negotiations between the TUC and the government will play a pivotal role in determining the outcome and the impact on the labor force and the Nigerian economy.