The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. (Dr.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige is constrained to respond to a number of issues which were raised today by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba after he led the NLC to withdraw from the negotiation between the Federal Government and organised labour yesterday, Tuesday, May 17 2016.
It is instructive to note that most Nigerians have shown great understanding of the fact that the current problem is not a subsidy removal issue but how to deal with the non-availability of foreign exchange, a situation that leaves the federal government with no other choice than to deregulate the downstream of the petroleum sector which resulted in rise in pump price of petroleum.
In view of the above, the Federal Government is fully committed to the quick implementation of the palliatives in the 2016 budget, while developing other ways to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.
The federal government appreciates all the important issues raised by the labour unions and has taken them into consideration. Government is resolute in making sure that the economy is not only strong but able to provide jobs and opportunities for all Nigerians.
That the federal government went to court to seek an injunction restraining labour from embarking on strike because there is a clear process of declaring labour strike under the law. It is therefore the view of government that those processes were not complied with before the NLC called the strike.
I wish to further state that series of meetings and consultations were held between the federal government through the Minister of State Petroleum, the Office of the Vice President, the Minister of Labour and Employment and organised labour unions. It bears putting on record that on the 4th of May 2016 while discussing the template put forward by the Minister of State Petroleum, the NLC, TUC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN and other major stakeholders even advised that the NNPC pricing should be same with that of the Independent Petroleum Marketing Companies at N140 per litre. There was another meeting on May 11, 2016 where Governors, National Assembly leadership and some ministers were in attendance with NLC, TUC, PENGASSAN and NUPENG promising to take the decision of the meeting to their respective organs for further necessary actions.
It was therefore surprising that the NLC, at the maiden meeting, put forward the issue of non-consultation as a major non-compliance issue on the part of the government but was out rightly debunked by the NNPC and Ministry of Petroleum.
Hence, I wish to use this forum as the major conciliator in this critical national issue to appeal to NLC to return to the negotiating table to conclude the negotiations that have been kick-started. Other brother federation unions, TUC, NUPENG, PENGASAN, NUEEE, NUBUIFE and other sensitive unions have signed a memorandum of understanding with the government negotiating team on the modalities for the implementation of the palliatives, needed to cushion the adverse effects of the increase in the pump price of petroleum.
Finally, I wish to state unequivocally that strikes will neither increase government earnings nor repair our ailing refineries but will rather lower productivity and further damage our limping economy. In this wise I have obtained the readiness of the federal government negotiating team to recommence negotiation with the NLC led by Comrade Ayuba Waba any time, in compliance with the directive of the National Industrial Court for both parties to further explore Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism (ADR).
Sen. (Dr.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige (OON)
Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment
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Report By: PRNigeria.com