The federal government on Wednesday intensified efforts to avert the nationwide indefinite strike called by organised Labour.
The Vice President, Kashim Shettima, met with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong and the Minister of State in the ministry, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, at the presidential villa in Abuja ostensibly to explore ways to stave off the action.
Following that meeting, Lalong expressed optimism that leaders of organized labour might have a change of mind.
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Even though he observed that meetings between the government and the labour leaders have been cordial so far, he was unable to say categorically whether the strike action might be called off.
Recall that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had threatened to lead a nationwide, indefinite industrial action, starting from Thursday to protest the lack of adequate measures to ameliorate the harsh economic conditions occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.
Speaking to correspondents after the meeting with Shettima, the Labour Minister said: “As for me I don’t think there is any problem. We’re moving very fine with them, with the Nigerian labour and the posture of the President too is towards good welfare for the Labour in Nigeria, so we have no doubt.
“That’s why in many of the meetings we’ve had with them we are not ending up boxing ourselves, we were smiling, all of us, with hope that the best is going to come.”
When asked about the strike, he said “Which strike? We’re still… No, don’t worry about it. That’s why I said it’s a friendly engagement we’re having with them. We didn’t have any fear about some of the things they put and also the suggestions and about.”
On whether the federal government had obtained any assurance from the organised Labour that the planned strike would be shelved, Lalong said “I don’t want to say that, I’m not the NLC’s President.
In a related development, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, expressed optimism that organised Labour would be reasonable in its actions as a strike in the current state would be in no one’s interest.
He gave the assurance while speaking with correspondents after a meeting with Vice President Shettima.
While expressing the belief that issues concerning the strike would be addressed amicably, he called on the organized Labour to be patient as the government finds solution to their demands.
The SGF stated: “The Labour leaders are very patriotic Nigerians and we want to believe correctly that nobody would want to have a strike at this time of our history because it is not in the interest of the workers and it is not in the interest of anybody.
“This government is very determined to raise the standard of living of the Nigerian workers and to create prosperity for all and that is not something that can be done overnight. So it will be inappropriate to begin to judge the government on the basis of the few months that it has spent in office.”
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