Nigerian Government and organised labour set goal of eight weeks to finalise rollout of subsidised public transport and new minimum wage following removal of fuel subsidy
The Nigerian Federal Government (FG) and organised Labour reached a tentative agreement following a five hour meeting at the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital of Abuja, Monday.
The meeting which began at about 05:30 pm was expected to consider demands by organised labour for an increased minimum wage and proposed palliatives from the FG.
This was the fourth in a series of negotiations between the FG and organised labour since the cancellation of petroleum subsidy, as announced by President Bola Tinubu on May 29, 2023.
Present at the meeting were the delegation of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), led by its President, Joe Ajaero, the delegation of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) led by its President, Festus Osifo, the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Special Adviser to the President on Revenue, Zachaeus Adedeji, the Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Olu Verheijen, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachallom Daju.
Others were the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, the CEO of Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, among others.
The Federal Government, said it has set up a steering committee to consider the various demands presented by the workers union to produce a workable framework in eight weeks, August 14.
The Special Adviser to the President on Communications, Special Duties and Strategy, Dele Alake and Presidents of the NLC and TUC , Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo respectively issued statements on the conclusion of today’s meeting.
“We reconvened today. And then, both parties went through this list. And we ticked off the viable ones; those things are broken into three different categories; the immediate, those that are low-hanging fruit, then the medium term and the long term.
“There’s a steering committee that will be like a clearing house. Where are there other work groups set up comprising both parties, government and labor members, and these work groups will work together very, very harmoniously and efficiently to arrive at the final resolution of all those demands; what we call interventions,” Alake said.
Osifo, President of the TUC explained that while the organised labour would carefully consider the framework the FG presented, it does not have forever to do so and must report within eight weeks.
He said, “We are looking at those frameworks. So the government came up with what they thought would work, and we made some input. From this night, we are going to continue the work in order to have that framework together.
“Once we have the framework, then we will agree. Anything we are putting together must be concluded in eight weeks. Everything must be rolled out within that time.
“We have agreed, they have submitted a framework to us, we have looked at it, we have made input, so will continuously work on it for us to come up with the deliverables.”
Osifo added that the Presidential Steering Committee would superintend over other technical subcommittees to consider key aspects such as the rollout of converted mass transit vehicles running on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as well as those to review the minimum wage.
The NLC President, Ajaero, said, “This meeting is intentionally to give life to those agreements that were reached. We have set up committees in those key areas to commence work on them to make sure that we wrap up in the next eight weeks.”
Tinubu hurriedly called for a meeting after organised labour threatened to go on a nationwide strike following his announcement that fuel subsidy was gone without any palliatives.
Akowe with reports from Abuja