The Federal Government on Thursday met with the leaders of the striking Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN).
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, speaking with journalists at the end of the conciliatory meeting between the government negotiating team and the representatives of the unions, in Abuja, appealed to them to end their strike in view of steps being taken to meet their demand.
Courts across the country have been shut down since April 6 when JUSUN members began their strike to press for financial autonomy of the judiciary.
Some state Houses of Assembly are also said to be on strike with PASAN members similarly demanding the financial independence of the parliament at the state level.
Mr Ngige said government had made offers to the two unions, adding that the representatives of the unions would consult with their various National Executive Committees (NECs), and revert back.
The minister said a lot of work went into the government’s proposal to the two unions, which substantially addressed their demands for judicial and legislative autonomy.
“A lot of work went in. We have exchanged briefs with JUSUN and PASAN.
“They have their demands, which they had earlier submitted. The government has given counter offers and properly addressed the burning issue of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary,” Ngige said.
He said that questions were asked and answered, while critical observations were made and explained, working on the proposal given by the government.
According to him, the meeting was adjourned to enable JUSUN and PASAN take back the government proposal to their members of their National Executive Committees.
“We expect them to work on the documents from tomorrow and if they are satisfied, they should inform us.
“And you know that when they are satisfied, the logical thing is to call-off the industrial action. So, we are to receive their views on the government offer by Tuesday morning,” he added.
Appeal for end to strike
Mr Ngige, however, said the discussions had been very fruitful, adding that they had moved from the initial position of ground zero, to ground 85.
He therefore, appealed to the striking workers to return to work to enable government meet the remaining part of their demands.
“We cannot do this when legislation is closed in various states. We cannot also operationalise them when the courts are closed and heads of courts are not allowed into the courts or their offices.
“We have made documentation and statistics for the state houses of assembly to make appropriate laws. So, we plead that you open the courts and state houses of assembly,” the minister appealed.
“Besides, we are menaced by bandits, terrorists, and arsonists, with the courts closed, the police cannot tackle insecurity,” Mr Ngige said.
Unions’ representatives respond
Responding, the Vice Chairman of JUSUN, Emmanuel Abioye, and the National President of PASAN, Mohammed Usman, both promised to meet with their NEC, to study the situation and consider the offers before reverting back to the Minister of Labour.
The meeting between the unions and the minister was the first after the earlier one scheduled to take place about two weeks ago failed to hold due to communication gap that led JUSUN leaders to stage a walkout from the venue.
JUSUN leaders later apologised to the minister over the walkout.
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