*Parley inconclusive, continues Tuesday
The Federal Government (FG) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Sunday night met at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja over the contentious petrol subsidy removal but the parley came to an inconclusive end.
Among the many demands made by TUC is an upward review of the N30,000 minimum wage by the FG to help cushion the impact of the removal of petrol subsidy on workers.
Mr. Dele Alake, Adviser to President Bola Tinubu, speaking for the government delegation, told State House correspondents after the meeting that most of the demands “are not impracticable” and they would be tabled before the President whose decisions will be reverted to labour leaders at the next round of negotiations fixed for tomorrow (Tuesday).
He said: “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 to also 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.
“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.
“So, government is look at that and Mr President is most likely going to constitute a tripartite committee, that is a committee of federal government, including the state and then the organised Labour and the private sector.
“There are other things like the tax holidays which some categories of workers will be beneficiaries. But the most important is the minimum wage.”
Asked if the other demand by Labour that the new pump price of petrol be reversed pending conclusion of negotiations, Alake said that decision would likely be taken on Tuesday when both sides meet again.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which has already threatened a nationwide strike by its members beginning Wednesday over the matter, was conspicuously absent at Sunday’s parley with FG, which Alake explained might have been the inability of the Congress to finalise with all its organs before the meeting.
Nonetheless, negotiations will continue with all labour unions and stakeholders, he said.
According to Alake, “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, sometime they could be meeting with their own executive 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”.
Reminded that Labour had insisted on reverting to status quo before further negotiations, Alake said “we touched on that, everybody looked at the practicability of that, the viability and otherwise.
“Now, the issue is that we will close all of those ones on Tuesday when we reconvene. Concrete decisions will be taken about that and then we will reach logical conclusions.”
TUC president, Festus Osifo, in his remarks to journalists after the parley said while some progress has been made with the negotiations, the union would still brief its members ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
He declined to give a full list of the demands presented to government on the grounds that the union wants to continue negotiating in good faith, as government delegation also did not reveal details of its own side of the meeting.