In a significant turn of events, the Federal Government of Nigeria has made a compelling offer to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a bid to prevent an impending strike.
The key proposition on the table is a substantial pay increase of N25,000 for all “treasury-paid” federal government workers, among other notable measures.
These developments emerged from an extended meeting held in Abuja on Sunday between government representatives and labor unions.
The Federal Government, represented by high-ranking officials, expressed optimism that these offers could persuade organized labor to reconsider their planned indefinite strike.
President Bola Tinubu had earlier announced this pay raise in his Independence Day speech, specifying that it would primarily benefit “low-grade” workers as a way to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
In a statement issued by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, it was highlighted that both the NLC and TUC will carefully assess the government’s proposals.
This assessment aims to determine whether the strike can be suspended, paving the way for further discussions on the practical implementation of these resolutions.
Among the significant points noted during the meeting are the commitment of the Federal Government to expedite the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, which will alleviate public transportation challenges arising from the removal of fuel subsidies.
Additionally, the government pledged to allocate funds to support micro and small-scale enterprises and temporarily waive VAT on diesel for the next six months.
Furthermore, a bold initiative will see the government commence payments of N75,000 to 15 million households at a rate of N25,000 per month, spanning October to December 2023.
Crucially, the discussions emphasized the importance of resolving disputes while workers remain actively engaged in their roles rather than resorting to strikes.
Labour unions advocated for an even higher wage increase, with the Federal Government Team promising to present these requests to President Bola Tinubu for further consideration.
A pivotal development emerged as a sub-committee will be formed to meticulously work out the implementation details of all items related to government interventions designed to cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
Urgent attention was also given to the longstanding issue involving the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State, with Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu pledging to address this matter.
The meeting was chaired by Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, with virtual participation from Governor Abdulrazak Abdulrahman of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), along with Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State. Notable government officials, ministers, and labor union representatives were also in attendance.
As deliberations continue, there is cautious optimism that a strike may be averted, allowing for further consultations on the practical implementation of these resolutions, which could have far-reaching implications for the Nigerian workforce and the economy.
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