The organised labour at the 11th hour yesterday suspended the planned indefinite nationwide strike earlier scheduled to begin today.
The decision is to give the federal government time to implement spelt out programmes aimed at cushioning the hardship caused by the removal of fuel subsidy.
The suspension, which is for a period of 30 days, followed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the labor unions and the federal government at the Presidential Villa.
The strike notice had been issued by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC in response to the withdrawal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by the federal government, leading to an increase in fuel prices.
Key points of the MOU include: “The federal government’s commitment to a wage award of N35,000 for all Federal Government workers, starting from September, until a new national minimum wage is enacted.
“The establishment of a minimum wage committee within one month from the date of the agreement.
“Suspension of Value Added Tax (VAT) collection on Diesel for six months, starting in October 2023.
Allocation of N100 billion for the provision of high-capacity Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses for mass transit, along with CNG conversion kits and stations nationwide, aiming to commence by November.
“Implementation of various tax incentives for the private sector and the general public.
Others include “commitment to resolve leadership crises within the NURTW (National Union of Road Transport Workers) and address issues regarding the purported proscription of RTEAN (Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria).
Referral of the outstanding salaries and wages of tertiary education workers in federal-owned educational institutions to the Ministry of Labour and Employment for further engagement.
“Payment of N25,000 per month for three months, starting in October 2023, to 15 million households, including vulnerable pensioners.
“Expansion of initiatives for the subsidised distribution of fertilizers to farmers nationwide.
“Encouragement of state governments, local governments, and the private sector to implement wage awards for their workers.
“Commitment to provide funds for Micro and Small-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and a focus on creating decent jobs.
“A joint visitation to the refineries to assess their rehabilitation status.
Also, there was a commitment by all parties to follow the principles of social dialogue in future engagements.
The MOU will be filed with the relevant Court of competent jurisdiction as a consent judgment by the Federal Government within one week.
The MOU was signed by NLC president, Joe Ajaero, general secretary of NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja, President and secretary of TUC, Festus Osifo and Nuhu A. Toro respectively.
On the federal government side is the minister of labour, Simon Lalong, minister of state Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and minister of information, Mohammed Idris.
Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu had on Sunday approved N35,000 provisional wage award for all treasury-paid federal government workers for six months, following further consultations with the government delegation that met with the leadership of NLC) and TUC).
It would be recalled that at the meeting between both parties, the federal government pledged its commitment to expediting the deployment of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to alleviate the public transportation challenges triggered by the removal of the PMS subsidy.
It also announced funding support for micro and small-scale enterprises, VAT waiver on diesel for the next six months, payment of N75,000 to 15 million households for a three-month period from October to December 2023 at N25,000 per month, resolution of the ongoing issue between the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State, among others.
The federal government, however, said outstanding issues can only be resolved when workers are actively engaged in their roles and not during strike.