By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja – The United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) on Wednesday suspended its strike for further deliberation with the Federal Government.
Mr Joe Ajaero, ULC President, said this at a conciliatory meeting called at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, with other affiliates of the proposed association on Wednesday in Abuja.
“In the sprite of tripartitism and negotiation, they appealed that we suspend the action for discussion to continue by next week.
“The ULC has looked at it and the further appeal by the Department of State Security (DSS) who had taken cognizance of the security nature of the sectors that are involved.
“Having looked at all these two factors, the ULC will be getting across to the field for the suspension of the action to enable further deliberation of the issues raised and the remaining issues to commence next week,‘’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ULC had earlier issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government which expired on Sept. 8.
The association further issued another seven-day strike notice that expired on Sept. 15 with a threat to shut down the oil, power and aviation sectors.
The demand included that the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment should set up a task force immediately to carry out factories’ inspection and review the privatisation of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Others are repair of roads leading to refineries and tanker farms, the Army and Police to withdraw their men in the different work places where they are currently stationed as their presence intimidates and harasses workers in such establishments.
The council is also demanding the immediate release of its “Registration Certificate,’’ among others.
NAN recalls that Ngige had said the Federal Government did not recognise the ULC as a federation of trade unions, describing the planned industrial action as illegitimate.
The minister also earlier said the Federal Government had a closed door technical meeting with the leadership of ULC and some agreement was reached.
“ULC is a proposed Labour federation and some unions have indicated their interest and had done the necessary preambles within the association as enshrined in labour regulations that they want to be part of.
“There is a proposal and an application in this ministry and that application is being processed and there is no finality that it will not be a registered labour centre.
“So, we are discussing with the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and all the other affiliates who said they are behind the proposed ULC.
“And in the meeting we had with the leadership, agreements were reached in the interest of our social partners to do the needful in the disputes,’’ he said.
He said issues such as the roads leading to the refineries and the tank farms were tackled and work was ongoing.
The minister also noted that the issues such as labour factory inspection, privatisation of the PHCN, security and others were also discussed.
“We now had an agreement that an enlarged meeting will take place next week on Tuesday, Sept 26 for us to reconvene and do justices to all those other outstanding matters.
“They promise to do a meeting with their members with a view of calling off the strike they have invoked. So, I want to commend them for attending this meeting,‘’ he said.
Also, Mr Igwe Achese, President of NUPENG, commended the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Works, Housing and Power, Petroleum and the DSS for their interventions.
“I assure Nigerians that the purpose of our actions is what we are seeing today, that we need to have this dialogue which is the only way is to resolve the issues.
“We believe that in no time the request of ULC will be granted while we go into other issues that affect our workers in the entire industry,’’ he said. (NAN)