The Federal Government of President Bola Tinubu has announced that it will consider a list of demands from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which includes a minimum wage.
WITHIN NIGERIA reports that the present administration made this known after its meeting with the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) at the State House, Abuja.
Speaking to State House correspondents after a three-hour meeting between the Federal Government and the TUC, Federal Government spokesperson Dele Alake stated that the government will also consider the practicability of the demands.
He stated that the President, Bola Tinubu, will form a tripartite committee comprised of states, organised labour, and the private sector to study the dynamics of minimum wage augmentation in order to reach an amicable conclusion.
Well, as you all know, we had this reconvened meeting today as we promised you few days ago when we had the initial meeting with the Labour movement.
We said we were going to reconvene today to keep the engagement on in order to diffuse the tension in the land as a result of the withdrawal of subsidy, which is a reality.
“Now, we are very happy to announced to Nigerians that this engagement has been very productive.
The TUC that attended today’s meeting presented a list of demands and those demands we have studied and we are going to present to Mr President, for his consideration.
But those demands we can announce to Nigerians that a lot of the items on the list, are not impracticable. What we need to do is to study the numbers very well.
Then, we have asked the TUC also to give us a leeway to consult very exhaustively and reconvene on Tuesday to actually look at the numbers, viability, practicability of all the items that have been presented to us.
Now, most important and top priority on the list which the government is also looking at very seriously and the president has announced before, is the issue of the minimum wage which the Labour movement has demanded is the consequential impact of this removal of subsidy.
Mr President is most likely going to constitute a tripartite committee, that is a committee of the federal government, including the state and then the organised Labour and the private sector.
Now, this is a tripartite arrangement, it will be a committee that will study all the dynamics of a wage increase in percentages, the numbers and the categories that will be affected.
So, by Tuesday when we come back to reconvene to meet with the TUC again, we should have very concrete items to present to the world.
But the most important thing for today is that we are making appreciable progress with the Labour.
When asked to disclose the demands, the spokesman said:
It is a list but we are not going to be listing all of them now. The most important is the minimum wage, that is increase of minimum wage. Because, when this thing is removed, the argument of Labour is that there is an immediate impact on the workers, on the purchasing power because price of fuel has gone up.
So, that will necessarily reduced the purchasing power of the average worker. So, the next thing of immediate consequence is to increase the purchasing power of the worker. So, that to me and to all of us on this side is the top most priority on the list.
There are other things like the tax holidays which some categories of workers will be beneficiaries. But the most important is the minimum wage.
Alake denied that the team is negotiating with the NLC, but he did say that they are attempting to reach out to Congress.
He went on to say that there is no disagreement with the NLC regarding their demand for a review of the minimum wage or a return to the status quo, and that FG representatives will meet with the President to finalise decisions on the demands.
He added that the absence of the NLC does not imply that the group is isolated in the discussion, but that the FG is making efforts to reach them, as the parties agreed to reconvene on Tuesday, 24 hours before the NLC’s scheduled strike.
No. We are not. but we are making efforts to reach NLC. We all agreed that we are going to meet here but again, in this game there are dynamics. Sometimes, they could be meeting with their own executives and not able to meet with us, or they could want to postpone or they have not actually articulated their list of demands as the TUC.
But we cannot second guess why they are not here. But efforts are being made to reach them, we are not isolating them at all.
On whether the meeting discussed the claim by one of Tinubu’s spokesmen, Bayo Onanuga, that NLC was working for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the just concluded elections, Peter Obi, Alake declared:
No not at all. It has no relevance to the discussion on the concrete terms of the welfare of the workers.
Our discussion was majorly on the welfare of workers, how to cushion the impact of this subsidy removal on workers that’s all. Not on any political partisanship.
TUC President Festus Osifo also spoke, confirming that the union presented the list of demands to the government after consulting with its members.
He insisted that, in the interest of social dialogue, the Federal Government reduce the price of petrol while discussions continue.
According to Osifo, the union is hopeful because the Federal Government has promised to look into their demands, the most important of which is a review of the current minimum wage, among other things.
As will recall that we were all here on Wednesday last week and after the meeting, after the meeting of Wednesday, government gave us their position and told us the reason why they did what they did, but on our part we did not agree with them. So they presented some of the things they considered as palliatives to us, that we should consider them in the meeting, but we told them no that we cannot consider them in that meeting, that we’re going back to call our respective organs.
So, we went back, called the NEC of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria on Friday and during the NEC meeting, the NEC of TUC decided that because we already told government as at Wednesday that we’re taking their demands back, we want to go and look at them because they asked us for our demands, we said we didn’t have the mandate to discuss the mandates as at then.
They also in turn told us that when they presented the items to us on Wednesday we told them that we were going back to our principals, so they also need to touch base with Mr President so that we’ll reconvene this meeting again on Tuesday. Topmost in our demands was clearly stated, that for utmost good faith and in the interest of social dialogue, that they should revert to back the pump price while discussions continues.