The warning strike embarked upon by organised labour across the country to protest Federal Government’s delay in implementing a new National Minimum Wage, yesterday, paralysed activities in the 36 states of the federation, with civil servants, banking, health, aviation, and other workers joining the industrial action.
The Leadership of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigerian (MHWUN) directed its members to join in the ongoing nationwide warning strike declared by the organised labour.
MHWUN President, Mr Biobelemoye Josiah, gave the directive at a news conference, yesterday in Abuja.
The organised labour had accused the Federal Government of stalling the negotiation by failing to mention a figure as a new minimum wage for workers in the country.
The leaders had also on September 12 issued the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum insisting that the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage should conclude its work within the stipulated time frame.
Labour, however, insisted it would commence nationwide warning strike over the non-implementation of the new National Minimum Wage with effect from midnight of Wednesday, September 26.
Josiah said the strike had become necessary as the union was an organ of the Nigeria Labour Congress and it was not violating any court order.
It would be recalled that the Health Workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) had embarked on strike for almost one and half month over government refusal to implement memorandum entered with the union.
It would also be recalled that a Non-governmental Organisation had taken the issue to court.
“As the organised labour with its civil society allies commence warning strike to protest the refusal of the Federal Government to reconvene the meeting of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee to conclude their work.
“We at the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, wish to register our unalloyed support to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
“We have watched with keen interest the unfolding events leading to this unfortunate situation and are convinced that organised labour has exhibited the highest level of civility and patience.
“They have also exhibited respect for due process in the quest for the legitimate aspirations of the working class,’’ he said.
He, however, noted that the National Wage Committee was inaugurated in November, 2017 and commenced work in March 2018 with timeline to arrive at a new minimum wage in August or September.
He also noted that the union was shocked to learn that government had decided to adjourn the meeting of the committee indefinitely with a purported intention to make consultations.
“We see this decision as against the principle of collective bargaining, an act of bad decision and deliberate ploy to delay negotiation and subsequent implementation even when the current minimum wage was long overdue, ’’ he added.
He said that the justification for a new minimum wage cannot be overemphasised as all the indices that justify wage increase have been introduced by government or market forces have propelled their emergence.
But the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Bauchi State chapter, distanced itself from Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) nationwide strike that commenced, yesterday.
The Chairman of the Chapter, Dr Lamara Dottijo disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Bauchi, yesterday, adding that that the Association was not part of NLC.
“Our members are not participating in the nationwide strike embarked upon by NLC because we are not part of them.
“Besides that, we will not allow hospitals across the state to be shut down, there are pressing health issues with citizens,” he said.
Dottijo stressed that his members were available for consultations in all the health facilities across the state.
“The NMA wishes to inform the public, especially our esteemed patients that doctors are not on strike and will be available for consultations in all the health facilities in the state.
“We call on management of all hospitals to support doctors as they continue to render services to patients, by ensuring safety of doctors, access to equipment and clinics.
“We also urge all our members across the state to continue to render selfless services to our patients in spite the ongoing strike by other health workers in the state.
He called on the Federal Government and NLC to come to terms and settle the problems amicably.
“We are calling on government to toe the path of truth and call a spade a spade to bring to an end of this unnecessary strike.”
Checks in majority of the hospitals in the state capital showed that doctors and other health workers were seen attending to patients while Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi and the specialist hospital recorded full and normal activities.
However, the Chairman, Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) Bauchi state chapter, told newsmen that the union was in total support of the strike.
“Our members have joined the NLC strike fully, so all our members are on strike until we hear from the leadership of the labour congress,” he said.
The NLC Chairman in the state, Mr Hashimu Gital, said the strike was successful in the area.
“There is compliance by workers in the state, the workers have all stayed back in their houses to comply with the NLC directive on the strike,” Gital said
The Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Katsina State chapter said the 12 local government areas in the North senatorial district of the state had also joined the strike.
Malam Habibu Bala the Daura Local Government Area of the state chairman of NULGE, said the councils had their offices and departments closed in compliance with the directive of NLC on the issue.
He said workers would remain at home pending further directive from NLC, stressing, “we were strictly monitoring the level of compliance through unscheduled visits to offices, schools and departments.”
Bala appealed to the Federal Government and NLC to ensure timely and amicable resolution to the problem.
“The only panacea to this imbroglio is for the government to honour the earlier demand of the union by working out a feasible minimum wage for the Nigerian workers,” he said.
He lamented that the current N18,000 minimum wage was out dated, especially considering the inflationary trend, stressing that it was far from meeting the economic reality on the ground.
A market woman in Daura, Madam Grace Abo also called on Federal Government to hasten resolution on the matter with a view to achieving a lasting industrial harmony nationwide.
All government offices, excluding those on essential services like security agencies, were shutdown with only shops, markets and filling stations operating.
The Katsina north senatorial district comprise of Daura, Maiadua ,Baure, Sandamu, Mani Dutsi, Mashi, Kusada ,Ingawa, Bindawa, Kankiya and Zango local government areas
In Ogun State, workers, yesterday, complied with the warning strike as directed by the organised labour to protest the slow pace of action by the federal government on the new national minimum wage.
Activities at the local, state and federal secretariats remained shut down, yesterday, in Abeokuta.
Also, activities at government agencies and public schools among others were paralysed while the gates at public offices were not open.
A few of the workers, who reported for work were seen discussing in groups while pupils and students of government schools were asked to return to their respective homes.
Speaking with newsmen, the state Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Olubunmi Fajobi, said that the union would ensure full compliance with the strike in the state.
Fajobi explained that the beauty of the expected new minimum wage was that it would have a positive effect on both government and private organisations, saying that all employees must be involved.
Some of the schools visited are African Church Grammar School, Ita Eko, Gateway Secondary School, Pepsi in Abeokuta.
In Asaba, Delta State, traders at various markets, yesterday, observed the-sit-at home order by the labour union as commercial activities were completely paralyzed.
At the popular Ogbeogonogo Market, the market which used to be a beehive of sales’ activities was seen desolated as the only few traders on hand could not display their food items for fear of not being attack by the labour unionists who had allegedly warned that any trader found in the market may be sanctioned.
Also at the Abraka Market in Asaba, only few Hausa traders were seen selling their products while other traders who used to display their food items deserted their shops.
In a press release issued and signed by the Secretary of Delta State NLC, Comrade Innocent Ofuonyeadi, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent, the union urged all affiliate unions of the NLC in the state to strictly comply with the national directive of the congress to commence a seven-day warning strike with effect from Thursday, September 27, 2018.
Following the strike, transport fare has suddenly ‘jumped up’ as tricycle riders who used to convey people for N50.00 has jacked it up to N100.00
Petrol stations within Asaba and its environs were not left out in the strike action as most of the stations refused to sell to their customers even though they opened.
In Oyo State, academic and non-academic activities were, yesterday disrupted at the University of Ibadan when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and other unions in the institution joined the strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Our correspondent who visited the university, yesterday morning observed that students and lecturers who had lectures as at 8am in the morning were shocked to meet the lecture venues put under lock and keys.
Administrative offices were not spared as most members who had come to work were directed to return home after attending the congress of their unions held at the Theatre Arts to intimate members on compliance.
The development also forced many students to loiter around, discussing the implication of the development on their pursuit.
Offices were put under lock and key. Those selling on campus have started feeling the impact of the strike.
Those who had travelled to process academic transcripts could not achieve their goal as those to process same were not available.
The University of Ibadan Chairman of ASUU, Dr. Deji Omole while speaking said, “ASUU is an affiliate of NLC and the national leadership of the Union attended the NEC meeting of NLC where the decision to embark on the ongoing warning strike was taken.
“Members of ASUU are therefore directed to join the strike action declared by NLC as from today Thursday, 27 September 2018.
“With this decision to join the NLC declared warning strike to press for the conclusion of negotiation on minimum wage, ASUU, UI emergency congress will hold tomorrow Friday, 28 September, 2018 to share information and to formally declare the strike.
“We should not allow the government to always walk away from concluding negotiations with the organized labour unions as this also has implications for the renegotiation of ASUU/FGN agreement”.
In Lagos, government offices, banks and public schools were, yesterday closed in Lagos State as the organised labour began its strike over delay by Federal Government in concluding negotiation on a new minimum wage.
The enforcement teams of the organised labour set out from Ikeja to the State Secretariat, Alausa, at 7:20 am and workers who arrived for work were being turned back.
The News Agency of Nigeria correspondents who went round the Lagos metropolis reported that the United Bank for Africa on Lagos-Ibadan express way and Wema Bank in Alimosho were closed.
The enforcement team of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions led by its President, Oyinkan Olasanoye prevented staff from gaining access to Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ikeja branch.
The ASSBIFI team stormed Polaris Bank (former Skye Bank) on Awolowo Way, Ikeja, as its gate was locked by the union, while workers and customers were prevented from accessing the premises.
Olasanoye said the enforcement was in compliance with the directive of the Trade Union Congress, which ASSBIFI was affiliated to.
She had on Wednesday at a news conference told journalists that ASSBIFI had dispatched letters to all its members in banks across the country, to join the strike.
However, Access Bank in Dopemu and First Bank in Iyana-Ipaja opened for business with many customers carrying out various transactions.
Meanwhile, fuel stations were seen attending to customers, while major roads, including Iyana-Ipaja to Ikeja and Ikorodu Road, were busy with the usual heavy traffic.
The organised labour shut down offices of aviation agencies at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos to press home their demands for the implementation of a new National Minimum Wage.
However, this action did not affect flight operations at the nation’s busiest airport as airlines and passengers went about their respective businesses without harassment from the unions.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) had called for the warning strike over non-implementation of the national minimum wage.
Their affiliates in the aviation sector, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) had shut down the agencies in compliance with the directive.
The union members had at the early hours of Thursday barricaded the offices of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Also shut down were the headquarters of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at the Lagos airport.
Commenting, the Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Mr Frances Akinjole, said that unions in the sector only carried out a “light” action.
According to him, this is because we are currently engaging on another important assignment outside Lagos.
“It is a decision we collectively took that there will be a strike, but unfortunately one of our sister unions, NUATE, is having its national delegates conference in Asaba, today.
“So, we decided to make the protest very light because leadership of the unions are in Asaba.
“We did not want it to look as if the aviation unions are not in solidarity with the national labour movement and that is why we only shut down the offices,” Akinjole said.
He, therefore, urged the Federal and State Governments as well as employers of labour to accede to the demand of the unions.
Akinjole said that the implementation of a new national minimum wage was long overdue.
In Illorin, the Kwara State capital, the Kwara chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance to the industrial action embarked upon by the national body of the union.
The state TUC Chairman, Mr Nasir Olumoh, told newsmen in Ilorin that there would be more compliance in subsequent days.
The union leader urged workers in the state to stay at home to avoid embarrassment from the officials of the union.
“I said earlier that we have instructed all workers to stay at home.
“There is no need coming to work and wasting their little hard earned money.
“We have members and executives who are very supportive. We have mobilised them to move round and ensure that all offices are under locked and key,” he said.
On the refusal of bank workers to join the strike, Olumoh promised to ensure that the staff observed the industrial action in the days to come.
According to him, the union has sent a message to the national secretariat of the body controlling the affairs of bank workers.
He also hailed the workers of the telecommunications operators and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) for complying with the directive of the NLC and TUC.
Recall that the officials of the two unions went round to enforce compliance with the nationwide industrial action in Ilorin.
Some workers particularly civil servants resumed for work but were later chased out of their offices by the union officials.
The unions later put the state secretariat and the governor’s office under lock and key.
In Kaduna, National Women Leader, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Hajiya Hadiza Kabir, yesterday, called for immediate removal of the Labour Minister, Dr Chris Ngige from office.
Kabir, made the call in a telephone interview with the newsmen in Zaria, Kaduna State.
She said the call became imperative in view of the fact that Nigerian workers no longer had confidence in the minister and his style of leadership.
“We are not sure as labour organisations whether the minister briefs President Muhammadu Buhari on the outcome of the meetings between government representatives and union leaders.
“Therefore, we are appealing to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari to remove the Labour Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, with immediate effect.
“We no longer have confidence in him as the minister at all; it seems he doesn’t know his job. I also want to use this medium to appeal to government to give priority to workers’ welfare for the good of the nation,” she said.
On compliance of SSANU members to the nationwide strike, Hadiza, who is also a senior staff at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, said their members had complied 100 per cent.
“In essence, the strike had recorded 100 per cent success.”
While commending the members for their total compliance, she encouraged them to stay at home until government heeded to the demands of labour.
Recall that workers at federal institutions, banks and other private organisations in Zaria complied with the strike order.
Our correspondent, who monitored the strike in the area reports that all Federal Government institutions and financial institutions were under lock and key.
Institutions visited included ABU, Federal College of Education (FCE), Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) and Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST).
Others were the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) and National Animal Production and Research Institute.
In Yobe, civil servants, the business community and parents in Damaturu, Yobe, condemned the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) warning strike which began, yesterday, describing it as grossly unnecessary and counter-productive.
A cross section of the respondents noted that schools and other public institutions in the state were still providing services in spite of the directive by the NLC for workers to embark on warning strike.
A civil servant, Abdullahi Musa, said: “Time has come for the trade unions to be decentralised for every state to face its peculiar problems, to avoid holding the country to ransom of unnecessary strike.
“Some state and local government workers have not been paid salaries for several months, NLC has never intervened but they drag every state into problems affecting federal civil servants; that is gross injustice.
“Similarly, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) does not fight for the staff of state-owned universities but pull state universities into affairs of federal-owned universities, it shouldn’t be so.”
A businessman, Alhaji Bukar Kaku, said strikes had always been an exercise in futility, warning that it would affect the economy badly.
“We should concentrate on issues that would promote the economy and not harmful acts,” Kaku said.
A mother of five, Hajara Umar, said the strike would only have a negative impact on the lives of the poor.
“We are currently faced with increased cases of cholera and malaria in Yobe, the strike would only worsen the situation.”
Yobe NLC Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Lawan, said that although workers in the state had no pending case with the state government, the union issued the directive for the strike because it was a national issue.
He said the union was wary of peculiarities and challenges of the state and would avoid issues that may spring confrontation.
“The peculiarities and challenges of the state are quite enormous; we have to be considerate, especially in critical areas of health, water supply and others to avoid the total collapse that may invite chaos.
“We are looking at how we can manage the situation and we call on the government to find a way of resolving the problem, we shouldn’t be talking about industrial action now, especially as we approach the general elections,” Lawan said.
In Abuja, the 7-day warning strike ordered by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has paralysed activities at federal secretariat, Abuja, yesterday, being the first day.
Public and civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stayed away from their offices, which remained under lock and key.
Our correspondents, who visited the Federal Secretariat and its environs, observed that offices were shut down.
In compliance with the strike, the gate of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the Court of Appeal, Ministries and agencies within the FCT were locked.
The Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Environment were also closed as union members used their vehicles to block the entrance to some of the buildings.
Also, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) was empty as only few senior staff members were seen reporting for work.
Few other senior officers, who had reported for work, were seen sitting idle at the gate and discussing in groups at the federal secretariat, Abuja.
Also observed that some school children in uniforms, who had reported for school were seen returning homes due to the strike.
Some of the public school teachers told NAN that they were not informed about the strike, and therefore, turned their pupils and students back.
However, the strike had little impact on the social and commercial activities in some satellite towns Kubwa, Mararaba, Karu, Gwagwalada among others in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
NLC had on Wednesday midnight embarked on the strike to press home its demand for the implementation of the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers in the country.
Our correspondents, who visited some commercial outfits, including Kubwa, Mararaba and Gwagwalada markets, yesterday, reports that traders and buyers were seen transacting business, oblivious of the strike.
A meat seller at the Kubwa market, Mr Chukwu Nworgu, said that though the strike was a right thing in the right direction, he had to make a living to be able to keep body and soul together.
“I am in full support of the strike, but I have to do my business to earn a living as a private man to feed my family,” he said.
Miss Amina Okatahi, who operates beauty salon in Kubwa, who spoke in the same vein, however, called on the parties in the minimum wage negotiation to hasten the resolution to the issue in view of its negative impact on the larger economy.
“We may not feel the negative impact of the strike much, but this is not to say that other areas of the nation’s economy will not feel it.
“ I am therefore appealing to the Federal Government and the organised labour to go back to the negotiating table and arrive at an agreed minimum wage for workers to avert indefinite strike,’’ she urged.
Other small scale operators, who also spoke with newsmen on the issue, stressed the need for a new minimum wage, adding that when workers received living wage, it would boost economic activities.
“When workers smile home due to increase in their salary and other emoluments, businessmen and women will also smile because that means a boost to our business,’’ Malam Mohammed Ali, a cloth seller said.
Kubwa, Gwagwalada and airport express roads remained a beehive of activities as transport operators were seen conveying passengers to their various destinations unhindered.
At Wuse market, it was business as usual as buying and selling went on smoothly as at the time of this report.
The story was not different at the UTC, Area 10, with traders and other business operators conducting their activities.
Meanwhile, buses with inscription of names of Ministries, Departments and Agencies were off the roads as a result of the strike.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Waba, said the warning strike became imperative, following the 14-day ultimate given by the union for the nation to have a new minimum wage could not materialise.
However, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, said the committee would meet again on October 4 on the issue.
In Benin, activities at the Benin Airport were grounded, yesterday as both entry and exit gates were locked, with hundreds of intending passengers stranded, arising from nationwide strike called by leadership of organised labour.
The strike caused gridlock within the axis of the Airport Road as motorists had hectic time trying to meander the area.
While hundreds of intending passengers milled around both entry and exit gates, security personnel struggled to control both human and vehicular traffic.
Edo Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Emmanuel Ademokun, who spoke to NAN, expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance.
He said that he and his team were going round to ensure total compliance with the stay at home directive of the NLC.
“We want to ensure that workers in the state comply with the directive of the NLC of industrial action.
“We are not just sitting, but going around to monitor things ourselves.
“I am quite satisfied with what I have seen so far and this will continue until there is a directive from the national secretariat,” he stated.
In Gombe, the Vice Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Adamu Garba, has warned that governors opposed to the new minimum wage will lose election for second term.
Garba gave the warning in an interview in Gombe.
“Majority of governors that fail to implement the minimum wage may not come back for their second term. Instead they will be voted out of office, because of lack of political will.
“Many governorship aspirants are willing to implement the minimum wage if given the chance in their various states,‘’ the NLC chieftain said.
He said that the state council of NLC would not compromise its resolve to ensure compliance with the directives of the National Secretariat on the strike, to press for a new national minimum wage for workers in the state.
“All affiliates of NLC have been directed to comply fully with the nationwide strike. We have mobilised our members to ensure total compliance,’’ Garba said.
According to him, NLC has achieved more than 90 per cent on the implementation of 2011 minimum wage of N18, 000.
He was optimistic that the struggle would yield the anticipated victory for serving and retired civil servants.
In Akwa Ibom, the Akwa Ibom Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Iboro Ibara, described the situation of workers in the country as that of being under slavery.
Ibara said this in an interview in Uyo while monitoring the ongoing warning strike declared by the NLC.
He said that workers in the country were angry because what they were being paid as minimum wage was not up to a living wage.
“I don’t think it is a matter of compliance. Every worker in Nigeria knows that he or she is not earning a living wage. It is not a question of compliance.
“It is that workers across the country are angry. All offices are under lock and key, you cannot expect to see any worker. 2019: Labour promises to vote out leaders owing salaries, pensions
“They have been angry for years, this is slavery; we do not even need to compel the workers to join the strike.
“Every worker is angrily at homes. They (workers) are looking for avenues to explode. The slavery in this country is too much.
“We are talking about living wage here, what we are calling a minimum wage is not even living wage.
“The government should be happy that we have even condescend to a level of even accepting this minimum that cannot be called a living wage.
“So, no worker will go to work in Akwa Ibom State until we receive contrary directive from our National Headquarters,” Ibara said.
When our correspondent visited the Federal Secretariat on Abak road, the gate shut as workers deserted the place leaving the presence of the security operatives from the Nigeria Immigration Service at the gate.
Speaking to newsmen, Branch Chairman of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE), Federal Secretariat branch, Comrade John Sebastian, said workers had been patient for so long.
Sebastian noted that workers across country were aggrieved due to the treatment meted to them by various governments.
“We have been patient for so long. Every worker is now aggrieved; we need something to be done for workers.
“It is not only politicians that are supposed to enjoy the resources of this country whereas they are not doing anything to better the lots of the masses,” Sebastian said.
Our correspondent reports that public primary and secondary schools in the state remained closed as pupils and students who went to schools were seen returning home.
The situation was the same in financial institutions as banks in Uyo metropolis were not open.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has said the organised private sector is not part of strike action by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Unions Congress (TUC).
Director-General of NECA, Timothy Olawale, made this known in a letter to all members of the association, in Abuja late Wednesday.
He said the leadership of national labour unions had assured NECA that the private sector was not the target of the industrial action but the government.
Against the background, Olawale, therefore, urged the employers to sensitise their workers to the effect that the private sector has no scores to settle with the unions as such not part of the strike action.
The letter reads in part: “We have been in constant touch with the leadership of labour unions and have been assured the target of the strike action is not the private sector but the government and its institution.
“In the light of the feedback that we have received from NLC and TUC, we advise members to sensitise their workers to the effect that the private sector has no problem with the unions, as such not the target of the industrial action.”
The NLC and the TUC, yesterday, embarked on a warning strike to protest perceived government complicity in the delay on the conclusion of works by the National Minimum Wage Committee.
Meanwhile, following the commencement of the indefinite strike action embarked on by the organised labour, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris has restated his commitment to pay salaries of all workers on the Federal Government payroll in spite of the on-going labour strike.
Idris gave this commitment today while speaking to Newsmen at the Treasury House in Abuja.
“We have a standing order from Mr. President to pay workers salaries from the 25th of every month, which we have striven hard to fulfill to Nigerian workers and this month will not be an exception”, maintained the AGF.
He, however, said that the payment of salaries cannot be achieved in an atmosphere where the critical stakeholders are not allowed access to their offices.
“I must explain that salary payment involves a number of processes that do not begin and end with the OAGF. There are other critical stakeholders like the Cash Management Department in Ministry of Finance and others who are supposed to do their beat before we can finalise”, Idris said.
“On coming to the office this morning we met the gates of the office locked and wondered how we can keep this promise if we are being locked out of the office. After speaking with the local arm of the labour in the office on the need to pay salaries, they conceded to allow me and some of my staff in but the Gates are still locked. I therefore appeal to labour to open our gates so that we can have unhindered access to meet their needs”.
The AGF further appealed to the national leadership of labour to reconsider their stand on the on-going strike saying that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari more than ever has demonstrated high commitment towards meeting the welfare of the Nigerian workers.
He, therefore, enumerated some of the very salient actions the present government has so far undertaken to improve the welfare of the workers to include:
i the payment of over N50billion for Promotion arrears from 2012 – 2016;
ii. the approval of another N60biilion for the payment of Salary Arrears with effect from 2011 -2016;
iii. the President’s recent approval of N22.68billion for the payment of pension arrears to the retirees of the defunct Nigeria Airways workers which has been outstanding for over 14 years;
iv. the President’s approval of N20billion to meet ASSU’s demand for infrastructure development in both Federal and State Universities;
v. the Federal Government policy of non-retrenchment of workers ;
vi. Provision of jobs for the teaming Nigerian unemployed youths, especially: the recruitment of over 10,000 policemen; recruitment by the Army, Navy and Air force; recruitment by the para-military such as the Fire Service, Immigration, Nigeria Prison Service, Federal Road Safety Corps and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps;
vii. Appointment into various ministries, departments and agencies;
viii. the payment of salaries to Federal Government workers as at when due, as well as promotion of workers as at when due.
Idris, therefore, urged labour to trust Mr. President and return to the path of discussion, and negotiation, as the President has demonstrated enough commitment by setting up the tripartite committee.
The committee which is headed by Ms Amal Pepple is saddled with the responsibility of consulting widely with stakeholders with a view to coming up with a realistic and acceptable minimum wage.
He further cautioned that “We are all working for the same system and we should do nothing that could threaten the economy and lead to the collapse of the same system”
It will be recalled that the AGF had at the end of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting (FAAC), last Wednesday, promised that salaries of Federal Government workers will be paid.
The warning strike embarked upon by organised labour across the country to protest Federal Government’s delay in implementing a new National Minimum Wage, yesterday, paralysed activities in the 36 states of the federation, with civil servants, banking, health, aviation, and other workers joining the industrial action.