The Federal Government of Nigeria is again asking for fresh talks with Organised Labour on the actualisation of reliefs to Nigerians who are hard pressed to keep body and soul together in the face of the ongoing economic downturn.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, appealed to Labour to come for further meetings with the Federal Government.

This follows a threat from Labour that it will again call a strike within 14 days if its demands are not met.

Idris says it is not in the interest of the nation for Labour to embark on strike and therefore appealed that they should come for a round table discussion in order to arrive at amicable resolutions of any perceived differences.

Organised Labour has been demanding that the Federal Government keep promises already made to deliver welfare to Nigerians and open channels for both parties to continue to confer, formulate further solutions and work out a marshaling plan, step by step and within time frames, to bring relief to Nigerians under the yoke of excruciating hardship brought about by a depressed economy.

While Labour’s presentations about the state of the economy can be quite lengthy, they are in sync with the views of renown economist, Bismark Rewane, who says the main macroeconomic issues facing the nation include high rates of unemployment and poverty, growing income inequality, and less-than-ideal and non-inclusive growth. Other factors, Rewane says, include soaring inflation, growing fiscal imbalance and currency pressures.

Among other demands, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress, (TUC), the two legs of Organised Labour, have been asking for wage awards, implementation of palliatives, tax exemptions and allowances to the public sector workers and a review of the minimum wage.

Government has taken some steps in this direction but Labour says they are hardly enough, amount to shadow boxing and barely scatch the surface.

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Speaking on agreements between Organised Labour and the Federal Government, NLC president, Joe Ajaero said: “In 2023, we witnessed two major agreements signed between the Federal Government and NLC and TUC; the June 5th and October 2nd agreements. Whether these have been faithfully implemented or not is open for every discerning Nigerian to see.

“Nigerians will judge that by our actions thus far, we have demonstrated enormous patience with this government and have been accused and labelled as having been settled by the government but we recognise that this is part of the burden of leadership which we are prepared to bear to ensure that we do not only take the right actions but that they yield the expected results keeping our nation surviving as an entity and avoiding fifth columnists from taking advantage of the situation to destroy our nation.

“In all of these, this government has shown enormous unfaithfulness in keeping to agreements.”

“We observe only a few pockets of progress in governance in some states but largely, the instruments of governance are mainly deployed for the sole benefits of those who believe they have captured the instruments of governance and thus use them for their sole benefit,” he said.

All said, the Federal Government has made some pragmatic and commendable policies and taken some positive action, such as the approval of N35,000 provisional wage award for all treasury-paid federal government workers for six months and the approval of palliatives.

Still, however, government needs to be clearer, more explicit and more forthright in its utterances and to make further progress in matching its words with action, so as to gain the trust and confidence of all components of Nigerian society.

This will help to oil the wheels of national progress which are currently squeeking and squeeling in friction, discord and disrepair.