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Minimum Wage: Labour, FG In Final Push To Avert Nationwide Strike

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) -The Federal Government and labour unions are engaged in a last minute dialogue, to avert a nationwide strike by workers, slated for Oct. 16.

Labour has resorted to the strike option, following an apparent inability of both parties to find a way out of the minimum wage logjam.

The two parties have engaged in endless and often fruitless meetings, raising anxiety and frustrations among public sector workers, who have waited patiently over the months for the new wage.

Speaking in Abuja on Monday at the continuation of a conciliatory meeting, the Chief Arbiter and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the meeting was an opportunity for information sharing and an avenue to soften ground for a final meeting, slated for Oct. 15.

He told the labour leaders to be open-minded in their dialogue so that both parties could get a way out of the minimum wage logjam.

Ngige said he believed that the meeting would bring an end to issues in contention, if both parties agreed and understood each other’s positions.

“If we don’t soften the ground bullets will fly and at the end of the day we will come back to the negotiating table. That is why we are doing this as a proactive measure.

“Part of my work is to ensure that there is a quiet industrial milieu.  The workforce brings out their full productivity and employers, businesses will not be disrupted. That is why we called you again.

“Tomorrow, we are going to do the mix grill meeting. That mix grill meeting tomorrow can be one hour meeting, it can be two hours or it can be 12 hours, depending on what we are able to achieve today.

“I appeal to everybody to show some understanding.

“We are going to discuss dispassionately.  Nothing will be hidden from anybody. The books of government, I talked about it before– when I mean books they are budgets– 2019/2020, we will make it bare.

“I have warned them and I have advised them that if they come they should be prepared to present their case, meaningfully and successfully.

“I will stay in the middle as an arbiter because that is what I am going to do in this instance.”

Also speaking, the Deputy President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Mr Amaechi Asugwuni, who spoke on behalf of organised labour, said that the meeting was called by the minister to share information with labour leaders.

He said that labour had made considerable shift on its demands from the earlier position on the consequential adjustment of the N30, 000 minimum wage.

His words: “We all know the consequences of delay is never fruitful and as such organised labour has come here with open mind in ensuring that facts are facts, also the situations are already known to us.

“The economy is biting and as a matter of fact, we must assist the process at this time in ensuring that we close it earlier than needed so that we can avert the unforeseen.”


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