Calls For Continued Negotiations At State Level
The National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima, has appealed to organized labour to stay the action on the plan to initiate an indefinite, nationwide strike from Tuesday, October 3, 2023.
Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, who disclosed NEC’s resolution on the Labour action to correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, September 28, also said the council asked Labour leaders to resume negotiations at the states’ level.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had directed their affiliate bodies to commence the nationwide industrial action from October 3, saying it would be a total shutdown of the system until the government takes steps to attend to their demands.
“It’s going to be a total shutdown…until the government meets the demand of Nigerian workers, and in fact Nigerian masses. The federal government has refused to meaningfully engage and reach agreements with organised Labour on critical issues of the consequences of the unfortunate hike in the price of petrol, which has unleashed massive suffering on Nigeria workers and masses”, the Labour bodies had warned in a joint statement on September 26.
However, relating to the NEC’s appeal to the media after the monthly meeting, Mutfwang said the council was of the opinion that continuing on the path of dialogue would be the best option for the economy, especially at the state level.
The governor said: “Council noted the notice by the national leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress to proceed on an indefinite strike from October 3, 2023. The Council noted further the implication of this strike for the economy and the nation and thus urged members to continue to engage with the leadership of their respective states and to appeal to them to shelve the action and continue on the path of dialogue with the federal government. This is the appeal of Council.”
Explaining the grounds for NEC’s appeal further, Mutfwang described the situation of most of the states when the various governors took off on May 29, noting that many of them were just coming out of prolonged industrial strikes, adding that enforcing a new strike at this time would further damage the economy.
He, however, appealed for more time for the government to work on addressing the concerns of Labour, even as he noted that there are feelers indicating that leadership at every level genuinely wants the issues raised by labour addressed once and for all.
He said: “NEC actually expressed genuine concern on the situation in the country and appreciates the concern by Labour to have those issues addressed. That is why NEC is appealing for patience, appealing for time to be able to address the concerns of Labour. We also believe that Mr. President will be addressing the nation first of October and some of the concerns of Labour will be appropriately addressed in the President’s speech.
“It is therefore important that… it’s a federation, so whatever happens, Labour is represented in all 36 states and the FCT and NEC are appealing that discussions should continue at the state levels because there will be peculiarities as to the issues to be addressed concerning the demands of Labour, therefore dialogue is the way to go.
“The nation is at a very critical moment at this time, in some of the states, when they took over on May 29, the workers were on strike, some of those issues have just been resolved for the workers to return to work. To ask them to go back immediately, it’s going to further damage the economy.
“Therefore NEC, while expressing genuine concern about the situation in the country, appeals for calm and patience and I want to believe that the leadership across the nation at this point in time wants to truly address the issues that concern Labour and the general populace and move the country forward.”