Workers’ strike: Why we must have clear, unambiguous agreement with labour, Engineer Sule insists
By Anthony Maliki
Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has given reasons why his administration will prefer to have a clear, unambiguous agreement, with the organized labour in the state, before calling off the ongoing strike action embarked upon by civil servants.
Engineer Sule made this known while hosting a meeting between government and the organized labour, at the Government House, on Friday.
The governor, who picked holes in the agreement about to be signed, which will signal the end of the four-day strike, called on the organize labour, to review the terms of the agreement, in order to clarify issues and to remove any room for ambiguity.
Engineer Sule appealed to officials of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), to first resolve the impasse involving the members of the Medical and Health Union of Nigeria (MHUN), who were initially part of the negotiations, but who later pulled out, with the agreement about to be signed.
Members of the MHUN reportedly pulled out of the ongoing negotiation, because their members are demanding that payment for the outstanding promotion, should commence in June not August 2021, as contained in the agreement.
According to the governor, it will be morally wrong and unfair, for his administration, to segregate among civil servants, while paying arrears of promotions, just as he emphasized that, he will not accept a situation where state civil servants are paid one hundred percent salary and pension, while workers and retirees at the local government level, recieve fifty percent of salary and pension.
Drawing from his private sector experience, Engineer Sule, said agreements with the organized labour must be clear and concise, and shouldn’t leave room for disagreement during implementation.
Specifically, the governor sought clarification on the total amount for the payment of outstanding promotions and annual increment, mutually agreed upon, to commence from August 2021, pointing out that, he will not be a party to an agreement that could lead to failure on the part of government to execute as a result of dwindling resources.
“I don’t want a situation where we agree something with you and then when the time comes, I will give excuse.
“I want the moment I agree, on day one, I will meet that agreement, because I will go to any extent, to make sure I meet that agreement,” he stated.
Engineer Sule wants government and the organized labour to agree on a specific amount for the payment monthly, because he should be able to know if the state can afford the financial burden.
The governor accepted that, while government commences the payment of the N30, 000 minimum wage for civil servants on level 1 to 6, negotiation will continue to determine the consequential increment, for workers from level 7 upwards.
Regarding labour’s demand for government to pay the outstanding August 2016 salary owed some workers in the state, Engineer Sule, directed that the arrears be paid before the end of this month.
In a further bid, to solidify existing relationship with the organized labour in the state, Engineer Sule, expressed the willingness of his administration, to open the books to members of the NLC and TUC, to ensure transparency in future negotiations.
The governor used the opportunity of the meeting to thank traditional rulers in the state, led by the Emir of Lafia, HRH Justice Sidi Bage (rtd), for their role in the amicable resolution of the workers’ strike.
Engineer Sule equally thanked members of the 11-man committee setup by the government in the wake of the strike, to negotiate with the organized labour, chaired by the state deputy governor, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe.
The governor commended the committee for resolving the impasse within 72 hours.
While also commending members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), for their refusal to join the ongoing strike, Engineer appealed to the officials of labour, not to discriminate against them as punishment for not participating in the strike action.
The governor then appreciated the organized labour for the maturity and professional conduct during the strike, as demonstrated by the opening of offices on the second day of the strike, as demanded by government.
Engineer Sule then urged officials of the NLC and TUC, to return to the negotiating table with the MHWUN, with a view to arriving at a common ground, so that the agreement between government and organized labour, could be signed latest on Monday, which may also signal the end of the ongoing strike action.
Commenting on behalf of the organized labour, state NLC Chairman, Comrade Yusuf Iya, explained that the MHWUN, pulled out of the negotiations, because they are insisting that their implementation should commence in June, not August 2021, as contained in the agreement.
Comrade Iya, assured that they will return to the negotiating table with the MHWUN, with a view to arriving at a common ground.