By Festus Fifen.
Minimum Wage increase and Tax Holidays are some of the top demands of the Trade Union Congress TUC when they met representatives of the Federal Government on Sunday evening.
The meeting which took place at the instance of the federal government at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa Abuja was between the National Executive Council NEC of the Trade Union Congress TUC and the Representatives of the Federal Government.
Addressing Journalists after the meeting, Mr Dele Alake who spoke on the part of government described the demand from the trade union congress as achievable.
Speaking in specifics Alake said the demands includes salary increment and tax holidays ” Those demands we have studied and we are going to present them to Mr. President. A lot of items on the list are not impracticable, what we need to do is to study the numbers very well, and we have also asked the TUC President to allow us the leeway to consult very exhaustively so as to convene on Tuesday to actually look at the numbers, the viability and practicality of all the items that have been presented to us.
” Top priority on the list which is also what the government is looking at and the president has announced to Nigeria is minimum wage increase which is part of TUC demand based on the impact of the consequence of the fuel subsidy removal. So the government is looking at it and Mr. President will likely constitute a tripartite committee which will be that of the federal government, the states, the Organized Labour and the private sector
” Now, this is a tripartite arrangement, it will be a committee that will study all the dynamics of a wage increase in percentages, the numbers and the categories that will be affected.
” So, by Tuesday when we come back to reconvene, to meet with the TUC again, we should have very concrete items to present to the world. But the most important thing for today is that we are making appreciable progress with the Labour.
Speaking on why representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC were not in the meeting, Alake said, ” we are making efforts to reach NLC. We all agreed that we are going to meet here but again, in this game there are dynamics, sometimes they could be meeting with their own executive and not able to meet with us, or they could want to postpone or they have not actually articulated their list of demands as the TUC. But we cannot second guess why they are not here. But efforts are being made to reach them, we are not isolating them at all.” he said
On his Part, President of the TUC Comrade Festus Osifo said things are progressing steadily with the government accepting to consider their demands,
In his words, ” Yes, we have presented the list of our demands to them and they received it in good faith that they will go back to their principal and come back to us on Tuesday. So we’re hopeful that the demands that we have presented will be reviewed in the best interest of Nigerian workers and the entire Nigerian masses.
On the number of demands, Osifo said, ” the demands are so long, they are so many, part of it is the demand for a (review) of the minimum wage and we stated that for us, quite apt that the minimum today is not a living wage, as we all know. The value of the minimum wage since it was negotiated, has plummeted to a very abysmal level, as it is today. ”
It will be recalled that the Federal Government, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress met on Wednesday last week where discussions actually started.
However the absence of the NLC in Sunday’s meeting might not be far from one of the demands of the NLC that the government should revert to the status quo before any meaningful negotiation can take place.
Present in Sunday’s Meeting on the side of government are the Secretary to the government of the Federation George Akume, GCEO of NNPC, Mele Kyari, Dele Alake, Adams Oshiomole and other personal staff of the president
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