The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Sunday pleaded with the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to give room for enough time for negotiations with the executive arm of government over the proposed industrial action for commencement on Monday.
He made this appeal during a meeting with the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and the President of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, in his office on Sunday.
Gbajabiamila said it is incumbent upon the House as elected representatives to act as a third voice, attempting to broker some kind of amicable solution to the ongoing impasse.
He said: “In good conscience, we are on the same page, or most of the time, we’re on the same page, and you know, that we, the leadership of the House of Representatives are on the same page with you.
“But what is the consequence, and that’s the bigger picture of going on strike. When we have a complete government shutdown, the people we seek to protect, invariably end up holding the short end of the stick.
“The budget is coming to the National Assembly. Some policies that are being considered and that will make sure to cushion the effect of this includes the provision of food items, distribution of grains, reduction on taxes on minimum wage, payment of some special allowances from October to January 2021, involvement in the ownership of housing programs through household and mortgage outlets by the NLC and TUC members, and special policy of government vehicles autogas, which is an alternative to PMS for public establishments.
“I think these policies and more will go a long way and this can be provided in the budget but it is a couple of weeks away or less. So this is an appeal”.
After the meeting, Wabba said the outcome of the interface with the executive as promised by the Speaker would determine the next line of action of the Labour unions.
He said: “We told the Speaker how the discussion with the Federal government went and how the meeting was adjourned, so, he has also promised to try and intervene at his own level to see to it that we don’t inflict more pains on Nigerians.
“In the course of the discussion, we had also realized that the House of Representatives has actually done a lot on these issues, including recommendations to the government which we have shared mutually “But the bottom line is that we want this burden that has now been shifted to Nigerians as consumers is also lifted so that we can have a decent life”.
On the strike, he said, “If the issues are not addressed, we have given notice and that notice will certainly expire by tomorrow (Monday) and all the actions we have pronounced will take effect”.
The Speaker later met with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, to deliberate on the outcome of his meeting with the labour leaders.
The labour unions had threatened to embark on industrial action from Monday if their demands for the reversal of the increase in electricity tariff and Premium Motor Split (PMS) were not met.
Present at the meeting were Deputy House Leader, Rep. Peter Akpatason; Chairman, House Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Rep. Mohammed Ali Wudil and the Chairman, House Committee on Power, Rep. Magaji Da’u Aliyu.
The Federal Government further met with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress by 7pm today Sunday to discuss issues raised by the union who have decided to embark on a nationwide strike action to register their displeasure.
Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, confirmed this on Sunday. The outcome of the meeting will determine the next course of action.
He said, “The Honorable Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige will be meeting with the Organized Labour.
“The meeting earlier scheduled for Monday 28th September 2020 is now scheduled for Today, Sunday, 27th September 2020 at Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa by 7pm.”.
The meeting was initially scheduled to hold on Monday by 3pm but was rescheduled to 7pm Sunday and will take place at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
The organized labor unions had earlier said, there is no going back on its planned strike action on despite a court order restraining them from embarking on a nationwide industrial action on Monday.
Labour is insisting that the federal government reverse the increase in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff, following the current state of the economy and the effect of the coronavirus on Nigerians.