Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

By Jimmy Fatunbi

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas on Sunday held a meeting with the organized labour in a last ditch effort to avert the nationwide strike by the labour unions on Monday.

The meeting which had in attendance the leadership of the National Assembly, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, Mr Wale Edun among others was held at the National Assembly.

A statement by the Special Assistant on Media/Communication to the Senate President, Anietie Ekong quoted Senator Akpabio to have told the members of the labour union that the leadership of the National Assembly had to cancel an important engagement to convene the meeting to explore ways to reach a consensus between the government and organized labour.

According to Senator Akpabio, “I do know that Mr President had set up a very serious committee to negotiate with Labour. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Head of Service who are here with us have been deeply involved in the negotiations.

“So the leadership of both Chambers decided to invite everybody here so we can listen to all parties. We are not taking over the work of the executive. We are not taking over the work of the NLC and TUC. But we just said we should hear from you.

“It is very difficult to negotiate for peace in an atmosphere of crisis. If you are on strike it means you are no longer negotiating. And the Nigerian people are desirous in having a closure to the issue of the minimum wage.

“And the government too is very eager to meet the yearnings of the people to a reasonable extent based on the current economic realities. Hence there was need for us to call all parties to the table and to hear from you.

“As the People’s Parliament we are also on the side of the people. Above all we are also workers. So what affects you affects us and what affects us also affects you. I welcome you that you honored this invitation of the 10th National Assembly at very short notice,” he said.

Speaker Abbas in the same vein said the National Assembly is on the side of government and the Labour Unions. “We are on the side of Labour and we are on the side of the people. That is why we call ourselves the People’s Parliament. Whatever affects the common man affects us too.

“I have said that how this country can eliminate corruption in the long run is to embrace a living wage, there are no two ways about it. But we should also be mindful that the mistakes of several decades cannot be repaired in one day.

“It is going to be a gradual process. We have to start somewhere and then agree to a plan of what we can do to reach that level where every Nigerian worker can beat his chest and say I am earning enough to put food on the table, enough to take care of the basics,” he said.

The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero thanked the leadership of the National Assembly for the intervention and expressed the hope that Nigerian workers would be paid a living wage.

“What we are negotiating for is for all Nigerians, which include your brothers and your sisters and your constituents. That is why we must all reason together to find the solution to it. It is not for the leadership of the labour unions. It is for all Nigerians.

“We are quite committed to finding a way forward, finding a living wage, finding a survival wage and not starvation wage for Nigerians. My colleagues and I are committed to this,” he said.

As at the time of filing this report the meeting was ongoing.

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