Strike: Agreements Reached With Labour Can’t Be Implemented At Once – FG

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The federal government has said some of the agreements it reached with the members of the organised labour during the October 2023 negotiation meeting are not implementable immediately.

The government specifically explained that one of the agreements, which is setting up of conversion centres for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) would take some time before it materialised, stressing that the committee handling it had gone far.

The agreement was for the government to address the suffering of the masses emanating from fuel subsidy removal and find a lasting solution to the devaluation of the naira, inflation, insecurity among others.

Expressing its dissatisfaction with the way the government was handling the issue, members of the organised labour declared that it would begin a nationwide strike in the next 14 days starting from February 9, 2024 if those agreements were not implemented.

But addressing journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, maintained that all the agreements were not implementable at once, calling on labour leaders to give it more time.

“These agreements, all of them are not going to be done the same day. Some can’t be done in two, three or four months. Like the CNG, it is a process that’s ongoing, and I’ve just told Nigerians what the CNG group has been doing in the last four months.

“We’ve commenced deliveries on those agreements. We’ve been reaching out to the organised labour because the President is committed to these agreements, he has good faith, that’s why we don’t want anybody to shut down the economy at any time because it will affect everybody.

“It’s like you want to pull down the whole roof of a house, meanwhile, you’re still inside the roof. We’re not shying away from implementing the agreements we’ve entered with the organised labour,” Onyejeocha told journalists at the briefing.

Onyejeocha disclosed that the government, through the Ministry of Finance, procured up to 11,500 CNG vehicles, including buses and tricycles, which would be rolled out by President Bola Tinubu soon.

According to her, the ministry shall liaise with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) to ensure that the visitation to the refineries for on-the-spot assessment of the refineries is done without further delay.

She added, “In line with the government ongoing commitment to improving the welfare of Nigerians, provisions have also been made for an initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits as part of the commencement of the auto gas conversion programme.

“Development of the state-of-the-art CNG conversion centres nationwide is also ongoing with the aim to deliver 1 million converted bi-fuel CNG/PMS vehicles to enable transporters and mass transit operators convert their vehicles that run on PMS to gas (which is forty to fifty percent cheaper than PMS).”

According to her, the N35,000 wage award agreed upon between the government and organized labour is currently being implemented.

She said complaints regarding non-implementation in some public sector organizations as well as the private sector have been received, which the Ministry is actively addressing to ensure compliance across all sectors.

She said, “Two days ago, I mediated between the National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCEFWW), Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA), the Federation of Construction Industries (FOCI) (Employers). Consequently, the parties have signed an agreement to resolve the issue.

This government acknowledges the challenges faced by Nigerians and has demonstrated sincerity in its ongoing negotiations with the trade unions.

“You will also agree with me that negotiations are often a gradual process, with resolutions unfolding in stages, however, the Government is assuring Nigerians of its continued commitment to addressing labour concerns and fulfilling all agreements as we move forward together.

“The government would also like to assure the organised labour of its commitment to maintaining open and constructive communication with them to foster positive labour relations and guarantee a supportive working environment for all workers,” she told reporters.