Tension As Labour concludes plan to embark on indefinite strike tomorrow

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…Insists minimum wage strike must go on despite court ruling

…Directs industrial unions to ensure maximum compliance

…Strike won’t cause fuel scarcity – NNPC

…FG keeps mum over labour’s decision

Tension is building up among Nigerians across the country especially in the private sector as the organized labour directs all industrial unions to embark on an indefinite strike from 12 midnight today over the breakdown of negotiations on the benchmark of the new minimum wage for civil servants.

It would be recalled the organized labour had proposed N65, 500 as minimum wage for workers but decided to come down to N30,000 during a negotiation with the federal government at a tripartite meeting which ended in a deadlock last week.

The federal government on its part had gone to court on Friday November 2 and obtained an injunction restricting the organized labour from embarking on strike over the minimum wage issue, but labour citing ILO charter insists that the strike must go on as planned and also backed out from further negotiations with the federal government.

In a statement signed by the General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson said the decision to embark on the indefinite strike on November 6 was reached at the end of a joint meeting of the CWCs of Labour Centers in Lagos on November 2 same day government went to court.

While appealing to the leadership of all industrial unions to do the needful to ensure maximum compliance of their members across the country, Ozo-Eson said each union is expected to mobilize all its members to fully participate in the strike and to work in harmony with other labour centers and unionists in their states as well as civil society activists.

In another development, a civil society group operating under the aegis of Joint Action Front, JAF yesterday said it is in support of the new N30,000 minimum wage proposed by organised labour while accusing the government of being insincere and unwilling to pay the proposed amount.

JAF in a statement signed by Dipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu, its chairman and secretary respectively, urged the organised labour to disregard the court injunction procured by the federal government stopping it from embarking on its planned indefinite strike.

Following the breakdown of negotiation with the government, the organised labour fixed November 6 as the start of an indefinite strike. The government, however, secured an order from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria on Friday stopping the two main labour unions in the country, Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC from embarking on the planned strike.

JAF said the strike is the only way to get the government to accept the proposed minimum wage.

“Minimum wage by law, and by legitimate demand, is for all workers from level 01 – 17 and other salary scales in the public and private employment of 50 or more employees. Indeed, for us in JAF, Minimum wage should be mandatory for all employers regardless the number of employees.

“The current demand for a new National Minimum Wage has gone beyond the stage of negotiation, hence the N30,000 agreed at the Tripartite Committee, which is even very poor @ US$83 per month compared to 1981 Minimum Wage of N125 @ US$250), represents an irreducible minimum and therefore and is not negotiable”, it added.

The group stated that the federal government as well as state governments will not pay the N30, 000 being proposed by labour if not compelled to do so.

The federal government through the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige is yet to issue a statement on labour’s stand apart from the injunction it obtained from the National Industrial Court.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has assured Nigerians that there is no impending petroleum products scarcity in the country, arising from the threat of strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC.

In a statement in Abuja yesterday, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs of the NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, advised motorists not to engage in panic buying, stating that the Corporation would do all it could to ensure the strike action, if embarked upon, does not impact negatively on fuel distribution nationwide.

He disclosed that the NNPC currently has 39 days petroleum products sufficiency and about 25 days products availability on land, stressing that motorist and other consumers of petroleum products are assured of adequate stock to meet their energy needs.

Ughamadu therefore advised Nigerians to remain vigilant and volunteer information to the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, or to any law enforcement agency around them, on any station that attempts to take advantage of any prevailing situation in the country at the expense of consumers.

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