On Friday, an emergency meeting with the Federal Government that was set for 3 p.m. at the Presidential Villa in Abuja was boycotted by organised labour, which is made up of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trace Union Congress, Nigeria.
The Federal Government convened an urgent meeting with representatives of organised labour in the conference room of the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President.
The purpose of the gathering on Friday was, among other things, to convince the labour movement to call off its nationwide strike scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 3, 2023.
On September 26, the NLC and TUC announced their intention to begin an indefinite strike on October 3 in protest of the rising cost of living following President Bola Tinubu's elimination of the petrol subsidy during his inauguration on May 29, 2023.
Additionally, the unions instructed their state chapters and affiliates to organise for the nationwide shutdown of vital infrastructure, including airports, seaports, energy networks, and petrol supplies.
“It’s going to be a total shutdown…until the government meets the demand of Nigerian workers, and, Nigerian masses,” the union leaders affirmed in a joint statement on Tuesday.
They accused the Federal Government of refusing to “meaningfully engage and reach agreements with organised labour on critical issues of the consequences of the unfortunate hike in the price of petrol, which has unleashed massive suffering on Nigeria workers and masses.”
The Federal Government pleaded with the unions to continue negotiations after Thursday's National Economic Council meeting, saying that an indefinite strike at this time may destroy the economy.
The government had scheduled Friday's meeting for noon, but it was moved to around 3 p.m. to allow labour to get in touch with its leaders outside of Abuja.
According to information obtained by Saturday PUNCH, the government sent the invitation to the meeting on Friday morning via the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The Conference Room was vacant by 4 p.m. since the union representatives weren't there, despite light refreshments being set out on the table to indicate an upcoming meeting.
Additionally, it was reported that the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, was in the office of the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong.
A source who spoke anonymously to Saturday PUNCH stated, "They (labour representatives) are meant to be here by now. Since then, we have been expecting them.
"The Minister of Labour and the Chief of Staff are waiting upstairs at the prepared meeting location"
Gbajabiamila was seen leaving the Villa grounds at 5 o'clock. He was rumoured to be making his way to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to await President Tinubu's flight from Paris.