The meeting with the leadership of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) was postponed, the Federal Government has said.
Although the meeting was scheduled to hold on Tuesday in Abuja, it failed to take place as the leaders of the unions staged a walkout from the venue.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, explained that the meeting was postponed to enable the government’s negotiating team harmonise all issues from the Memorandum of Understanding reached at separate meetings with tiers and arms of government.
Amid the ongoing nationwide strike by the judiciary workers, the leaders of the unions staged a walkout from the reconciliation meeting with the government and representatives of the state governors after waiting for over an hour at the conference room of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, where the failed meeting was to be held.
Chanting solidarity songs as they left the conference room, the striking workers refused to listen to pleas from the permanent secretary who informed them that Ngige was holding a meeting with the government team in his office.
It was the second failed meeting scheduled with the minister in the series of discussions aimed at resolving the impasse between the government and the judiciary workers whose strike has paralysed activities across the courts in the country.
Defending the action of the government while briefing reporters in his office, Ngige said it became necessary to ensure the meeting with the unions came with a Memorandum of Action that would be implementable with timelines.
“There is no point rushing to do a meeting that will be fruitless. The judiciary, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and even the Presidency are involved in this negotiation because the meeting held yesterday (Monday) was at the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President.
“The arising documents are not yet properly harmonised; it will, therefore, not be fruitful to hold a negotiation where people speak from irreconcilable positions. It won’t help us, and it won’t help the unions either,” the minister was quoted as saying in a statement by a spokesperson for the ministry, Charles Akpan.
He added, “The reason is to ensure that the agreement reached at the end of our meeting here is put into action, with timelines for implementation.
“So, if we don’t have a paper that is ready to go, then there will be no point for the talk shop.”
Ngige alleged that the unions’ leaders were in a hurry despite being informed of the little time needed for him to round off a meeting with the government team.
“It is better done properly so that the governors can implement whatever agreement we enter into. The governors hold the ace because they hold the sovereign in their respective states, even though they are sub-nationals, but they run the government of those states,” he said.