Nigeria

FG Dangles Tax-free Wages, Houses, Buses, Cash Benefits To Workers As Talks Resume Monday

By Akanimo Sampson

NLC, TUC meet FG over fuel price and electricity tariff hike.

Parties on fuel and electricity tariff hikes reversal will be returning to the negotiation table on Monday, following failure to reach a consensus on the troubling issue.

They agreed to reconvene after consulting their different constituencies. For the second time in a week, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the organised labour meeting on the worrisome tariff hikes again deadlock as parties held on to their positions.

The previous week the meeting ended in similar fate with parties agreeing to engage further in consultations.

Though the Buhari administration is putting offers on the table in the form of palliatives, both Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), are turning down the offers insisting that the electricity tariff hike ‘’must’’ be suspended before they can engage with the government.

At the Thursday night meeting at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Buhari administration offered palliatives in the areas of housing, transportation and agriculture. But, while appreciating the offers, labour leaders however said unless the electricity tariff increase was reversed, they were not prepared to continue the talks.

Some of the palliatives being offered include; tax free N30,000 minimum wage for levels 1-4 workers, provision of mass housing for members of organised labour, provision of financial support to the tune of N2.5 billion for those captured under the conditioner cash transfer for the urban poor, provision of unspecified number of buses to ease cost of transportation and the provision of one million units of meters in the next three months under the mass metering project among others.

On the government side are Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Labour and Employment Minister, Chris Ngige, his Power counterpart, Saleh Mamman, that of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, as well as Ministers of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo.

NLC is being led by its President, Ayuba Wabba,  and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye.

In the mean time, the National Industrial Court has granted an interim order restraining labour from staging a strike on Monday. The order also restrains the union officers, affiliates and privies.

Justice Ibrahim Galadima said on Thursday that the interim order was made pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

The court similarly restrained the unions, their officers, affiliates, privies from stopping ordinary Nigerians from accessing their offices to carry out their legitimate duties on September 28, 2020 or any other date.

Justice Galadima made the order sequel to an ex-parte application filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association through their counsel, Sunusi Musa.

Also the court ordered the Police, DSS to provide protection for workers engaged in their legitimate duties from any form of harassment or intimidation pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.