General strike all set to proceed tomorrow as labour unions shun government meeting to avert action

LABOUR unions have shunned a meeting called by the federal government to avert a general strike and stepped up plans for nationwide industrial action as the November 6 deadline given to ministers to implement the new N30,000 ($62) a month minimum wage looms.


Over recent months, the government and the trade unions have been negotiating a minimum wage and the two sides have agreed to increase the amount to N30,000 from the current N18,000 a month. According to the unions, the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage had concluded its negotiations and agreed on N30, 000 following an appeal made by Organisation Private Sector (OPS) as to what its members could afford.


However, so far, the government has failed to make any moves to introduce the new minimum wage and exasperated with the delay, the unions have given the government until November 6 to take action or face industrial action. Last week, the Nigerian Governors Forum met in Abuja and said it could only afford a minimum wage of N22,500, which the labour unions dismissed as unacceptable.


Yesterday, the unions shunned a meeting and stepped up its plan for a nationwide strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Ministers had scheduled the meeting to hold at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation but with no labour leaders present, some government officials and members of the organised private sector met.


Those at the meeting included the secretary to the government of the federation Boss Mustapha, the minister of labour and employment Chris Ngige and finance minister Zainab Ahmed. According to Mr Mustapha, the federal government is waiting for the Tripartite Committee report so that it could begin the process leading to the enactment of the new minimum wage law.


He said the report would still go through the National Economic Council and the Council of State before an executive bill would be sent to the National Assembly. According to Mr Mustapha, the only outstanding issues left for the committee is to harmonise the 15th chapter of the report, harmonise figures and submit it.