The Federal Government has scheduled a special meeting with representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, their affiliates as well as members of Civil Society Organisations as one of the ways to end incessant industrial actions by workers.
The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, disclosed this in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he held with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
Ngige said at the meeting slated for Saturday, officials would disclose the true state of government’s financial account to the labour leaders so that they can appreciate the challenges facing the nation.
The minister, who briefed the President on the recent strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors which was suspended on Thursday, said Buhari had approved the meeting with the labour leaders.
“The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organised labour.
“All government institutions that have to do with the finances of government will join us to meet with them and show them the books.
“So, the invitation is going out to them this afternoon (Friday), the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress 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 so that we do this meeting tomorrow.
“At the meeting, government finances, challenges and everything will be laid bare on the table. They will also table their own fears and what they think is also good for the Nigerian people especially the workers, so that we look at them.”
On the recent hike in electricity tariff and the public outcry that followed, Ngige said, “The electricity tariff as you know, the Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity band R1 and R2.
“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.”
The minister said representatives of unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions would also attend the meeting to table their positions on some issues.
“The tripartite unions of university system including some colleges of education and some hospitals; Non-Academic Staff of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the National Association of Academic Technologists, 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 system.
“They claimed and alleged that the IPPIS system is over deducting some line items like taxes, the Pay As You Earn taxes they claim the IPPIS system is charging more than they supposed to debit.
“They also claimed 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,” he explained.