Efforts by the federal government to avert Tuesday’s planned protests and rallies by the labour movement hit a brickwall yesterday, as it dialogue with Labour could not arrive at a conclusion and was scheduled to reconvene on Monday, January 7.
Monday’s meeting would determine if the protests and rallies across the country is to go ahead, even as discussions intensified on the new wage.
Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, who spoke at the end of meeting, which lasted for over five hours, hinted that substantial progress has been made in the discussion, pointing out that a final resolution would be arrived at when the meeting reconvenes on Monday, expressing the hope that a conclusion would be arrived at that meeting.
He insisted that the meeting was not deadlock, as they agreed on most of the issues tabled for discussion and only adjourned to allow for further consultation, arguing that if President Muhammadu Buhari were not interested in the minimum wage, he would not have set up the tripartite committee in the first place.
He said the committee announced was only meant to advise the Ministry of Budget and National Planning on the implementation of the minimum wage.
On his part, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, also dismissed insinuations that the meeting was deadlocked, saying it would continue on Monday to finalise on their discussions.
Wabba said: “We have had a social dialogue bothering on the national minimum wage and the meeting decided to adjourn and reconvene in Monday for us to do further consultations before the issues are concluded.
“We have discussed all the issues and all the areas, particularly how we can ensure that the issue is put behind us. That is why we took such a long time, including having a time out to consult. But we have not been able to conclude and we have agreed to reconvene to tidy up the process.
“The issue at stake is to make sure that the bill is transmitted and also other auxiliary issues that government said they are trying to put together.
“We also want to see how the money gets into the pocket of our workers, because a lot of economic factors have affected the current wage. But the major issue is that we have been able to have a meaningful social dialogue and the process is not conclusive and will reconvene on Monday.
“Monday is not too far from now, so I expect you to be available to get the conclusion by Monday. The rallies on Tuesday will be determined by Monday’s meeting.”
Meanwhile, the organised labour, yesterday, said it had started mobilisation of members ahead of the Tuesday, January 8 strike over the non-payment of the agreed N30, 000 New Minimum Wage.
It was gathered that workers in Lagos had been informed on the strategic roles to play while awaiting further instructions.
The three labour umbrella unions- the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC)- met on December 20, last year and gave the federal government on or before December 31 to submit the Tripartite Committee Report on the N30, 000 minimum wage to the National Assembly or face strike.
Deputy General Secretary of ULC, Chris Onyeka, said labour had started reaching out to their allies and those in the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).