Tony Akowe, Abuja
Attempt by the House of Representatives to dialogue with organised Labour with a view to nipping in the bud the proposed strike over the delay in concluding negotiations on the consequential adjustment in the new national minimum wage failed on Tuesday as labour leaders failed to turn up for the meeting.
The House Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity had invited the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) to a dialogue session, but the meeting could not hold.
Chairman of the House Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Hon. Ali Wudil Mohammed (APC, Kano told members of the committee members that the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress sent a letter informing the committee of their inability to honour the invitation.
There was however no correspondence from the leadership of the Trade Union Congress as to why they did not honour the meeting.
Hon. Wudil told the committee that due to the ongoing negotiation between the federal government and the leadership of organised Labour, the labour leaders were not present, but that the committee received a letter from the NLC asking them to reschedule to the meeting for another day.
In the correspondence from the NLC dated October 15, 2019 which was read at the committee seating, it informed the committee that the timing of the dialogue session coincides with the meeting of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council with the Federal Government team on the consequential adjustment.
The NLC therefore, asked that the committee should give them another favourable date to enable them make appearance.
The Committee Chairman said the intention of the Committee was to meet with the leadership of organised labour to hear from them before meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment with a view to finding common ground and prevent a possible strike by workers.
He assured that despite the meeting not holding, the committee will still make effort to meet with all the stakeholders to address the issues in contention.
Meanwhile, members of the committee at their inaugural meeting expressed their willingness to work with the chairman in fostering industrial peace and harmony within the public service.
Organised Labour had issued an ultimatum to the federal government to conclude negotiation on the consequential adjustment for workers on grade level 07 and above or face a nationwide strike.
While the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association has appealed to Labour to shelve the planned strike, labour has placed its members across the country on standby for what they called a prolonged strike.
Addressing the inaugural meeting of the Committee, Hon. Wudil said “the speaker didn’t appoint this committee in error because he knows that we can deliver and we’re going to deliver. That is why we decided to invite labour leaders to our inaugural meeting, but unfortunately, they couldn’t come.
“And I’m using this medium to appeal to my colleagues that as chairman, I need their support to be able to function effectively as chairman. I am an engineer by training and each and every one of us here is a professional in one field or the other, and I urge us to bring our wealth of experience to bear in the discharge of our duties”.
Members of the Committee pledged their cooperation and support to address labour and employment-related issues in the country
They argued that the task before the committee was dicy as it is saddled with the responsibility of dealing with complex industrial matters relating to the organised labour, most especially now that controversy surrounding the new minimum wage is still raging.