The Labour Minister, Simon Lalong, is facing a boycott from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over his alleged role in undermining the agreement reached with the Federal Government to avert a planned strike on October 3.
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said yesterday that his team would not attend any meeting with the minister, who he accused of siding with a faction of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
The NLC and the Federal Government are scheduled to meet today to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed last month to address the issues raised by the workers. The meeting was initiated by the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who has been mediating between the parties.
“Hopefully we may meet tomorrow (today) with the Federal Government all things being equal on their report and template, whether all those issues have been met in the last 30 days.
“If that meeting holds, the minister of Labour will not be present in any meetings with us.
“Any meeting the Federal Government calls today with the Minister of Labour and Employment, that meeting will not hold.
“You have noticed of late that meetings are no longer called by the Minister of Labour because he is not in control.
“Therefore, to depend on him for resolutions on issues about Labour is to waste our time.
“For tomorrow’s (today’s) meeting, the invitation we got was from the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President (Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila) and that is where previous meetings have been held.
“The Minister of Labour has no place in the current industrial relations,” Ajaero said.
However, the NLC has also announced its intention to embark on a strike in Imo State on Wednesday over unpaid wages and other alleged anti-labour practices by the state government. The NLC said it would stage a protest and shut down all economic activities in the state until its demands are met.
Ajaero said the NLC was deeply concerned about the violations of the rights and privileges of workers in Imo State by the state government, which he said had become habitual and serial. He said the NLC had tried to engage in constructive dialogue and reach amicable agreements, but the state government had reneged on them.
He also said the state government had resorted to using its powers to deploy coercive forces against trade unions and their leaders to suppress their legitimate grievances. He vowed that the NLC would not be intimidated or deterred from fighting for the rights and welfare of workers.
Meanwhile, the National Industrial Court in Owerri has issued an extended interim injunction restraining the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) from embarking on the strike or occupying Imo State. The court, presided over by Justice Nelson, adjourned till Friday for either a hearing or a report of settlement.