Pleas by some high-ranking officers of Federal Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity for executive members of two striking unions in the country to return to the negotiating table fell on deaf ears as the unions staged a walk-out protest on the Minister.
This happened as members of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) walked out of a meeting summoned by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige to discuss the ongoing industrial action by the unions.
The meeting scheduled for 3 p.m was botched when members of JUSUN and PASAN members who were seated before the time walked out after waiting for almost two hours without being attended to by either the Minister or any of his team.
Speaking with newsmen later, Comrade Koin Selepreye, JUSUN National Public Relations Officer, said it was wrong for the minister to keep the workers for that long, when the invitation sent to them clearly stated that the meeting was for 3pm.
She said the union would always be available for meetings, but won’t take it when time schedules were not respected.
Also speaking to newsmen, Comrade Mohammed Usman, the National President of PASAN, slammed the minister for what he described an “unfair treatment melted on the workers.”
He said the workers respect time and won’t accept being kept for a meeting which should be taken seriously, considering the importance of the issues at stake.
Pleas by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Peter Yerima Yarfa, and the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Barr. Ita Enang, to prevail on the unions to return for the meeting met a brick wall as they entered their cars and zoomed off.
But in his swift response, the minister said the meeting was postponed “to enable the Federal Government negotiating team to harmonise all issues from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at separate meetings with tiers and arms of government,” on the issue in contention.
At the meeting were the representative of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Inspector-General of Police, NJIC, and Head Legal Team of the Nigerian Governors Forum.