President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, to meet with the organised labour in order to give the true picture of the nation’s economy in the midst of agitations by various unions to embark on an industrial action.
Dr Ngige, who announced this on Friday while briefing State House reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, said the meeting had been fixed for Saturday, September 12, 2020.
- Kwankwaso tells Buhari to reverse hike in fuel, power costs
- Electricity/fuel price hike: NANS plans mass protest Monday
The minister said the meeting would afford the labour unions an opportunity to look at government finances and listen to the challenges in the midst of the recent hike in price of premium motor spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol and electricity tariff.
He said: “The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organised private labour; all the government institutions that have to do with the finances of government so that we meet with them and show them the books.
“So, the invitation is going out to them this (Friday) afternoon, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates or supporters and friends in the Civil Society Organisations.
“The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday), so, I will relate more with the Chief of Staff to the President and the leadership of the unions today (Friday) so that we do this meeting on Saturday.
“At the meeting, government finances, challenges and everything will be laid bare on the table.
“Their own fears and what they think is also good for the Nigerian people, especially the workers, they will also table it so that we look at it,” he said.
Ngige, while speaking on the recent hike in electricity tariff, said the action was approved by the regulatory body based on certain realities confronting the sector.
He said: “The electricity tariff as you know, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity band R1 and R2 and even in the R2 band, you have soft bands so that we can protect the rural poor and people who are in the suburbs.
“So, we are going to look at them holistically because we want a stable labour industrial union in the country so the President has been briefed and he is in tune and has given the support to talk to everybody we need to talk to.”
Dr Ngige, while speaking on the planned strike by the tripartite unions of the non-academic staff unions of universities, said government was aware of the plans and had already invited them to a meeting to discuss and address their concerns.
“The tripartite unions of university system including some colleges of education and some hospitals; Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
“We have invited them to a meeting, the leadership met with me last week and the major thrust of the challenges they have is on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) system.
“They claim and allege that the IPPIS system is over deducting some line items like taxes, the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes they claim the IPPIS system is charging more than they suppose to debit.
“They also claim that some allowances that are peculiar to the university system like responsibility allowance, hazard allowance, field trip allowance and education of children allowance, that the IPPIS has stopped all of them.
“At the government level, we have discussed and we now want to do a special session with them, they come with their facts and the Accountant General will lead his team, the National Salaries and Incomes and Wages will also come and the Ministry of Labour will lead and then we discuss and find out who is treating the other unfairly,” the minister explained.