By Ukpono Ukpong
The Federal Government has continued to actively maintain open communication with major trade unions, aimed at preventing future strikes, fostering positive labor relations, and ensuring a friendly working environment for workers.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Barr Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, highlighted the government’s commitment towards implementing agreements with trade unions during separate meetings with the leaderships of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Congress of University Academics (CONUA) in Abuja today.
During a courtesy visit to the headquarters of the TUC, the Minister assured the union that “the government is working round the clock to ensure that agreements with trade unions are fulfilled.”
Onyejeocha also maintained that the government appreciates the plight of the trade unions, noting that her visit was not only to reiterate the government’s readiness for partnership but also to keep the channels of communication open. She said, “I am here specifically to reassure you that we have not forgotten about the agreements between the government and trade unions.
Thank God that you have confirmed that the federal government has started paying the N35,000 wage award and I can assure you that the payment is on course and the outstanding will be paid within a short period of time.”
She added, “I know that the President is focused on making sure that the issue of a new national minimum wage is addressed. The government will ensure that the committee starts working in earnest.
“I do not want to wait for any stakeholder to start agitating. That is why I have come to remind you that I am aware of those agreements and we are working round the clock to make sure they are fulfilled. If there is any that we cannot fulfill now, including the past ones, we will continue our engagements on them.”
She commended the leadership of TUC for having faith in the government and assured the union of the government’s continued readiness to listen to them, as well as partner with them for the greater good of the people.
Speaking earlier, the President of TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo, thanked the Minister for her timely and thoughtful visit, adding that her visit would go a long way in building trust and mutual understanding between the government and the union.
He commended the government for some of the major steps taken so far, specifically for fulfilling up to 80% of the agreement with the management of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), and urged the government to fulfill the remaining 20% of that agreement.
“We are not a union that waits for the government to fail in order to hold it to ransom. That is why we keep engaging,” Osifo said. Earlier, in the meeting with the leadership of CONUA, the Minister reiterated the government’s willingness to work with unions and address their concerns satisfactorily.
CONUA Chairman, Niyi Sunmonu, who tabled some issues that he said required the government’s quick implementation, expressed optimism for a strike-free future with continued government understanding and commitment.