Despite Pressure to Shelve Strike, NLC Insists on Protest

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  • To meet TUC to select date

Paul Obi in Abuja
Despite the pressure mounted by the federal government to make the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) shelve its planned one-day nationwide strike, the NLC monday insisted that the strike would go ahead notwithstanding the plea by various interest groups calling for its suspension.

The effort to persuade the NLC to shelve the strike has been spearheaded by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, among other top government functionaries.

But in a communiqué issued in Abuja and signed by the NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, and Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, the labour union said that the prevailing circumstances in the country and the scorched-earth economic policies of the government warrant the national strike.

The communiqué issued at the end of the meeting of the NLC’s Central Working Committee (CWC) highlighted the union’s grievances to include the electricity tariff hike, fuel scarcity, the privatisation programme, casualisation of workers, outsourcing, and the non-payment of salaries and pensions, among others.

NLC contended that government’s dilly-dallying approach in addressing the national problems had worsened the economic situation in the country, leaving it with no option than to embark on a one-day nationwide warning strike to press home its demands.

The union said: “CWC therefore resolved that the leadership should work with TUC to organise a one-day nationwide rally and protest, and another one-day for a national solidarity rally with Kaduna workers in Kaduna to protest the high-handedness of the government.

“In furtherance of this, it was also resolved that a joint emergency NEC meeting of TUC and NLC be convened.”
But THISDAY checks revealed that a section of the organised labour might not be in total support of the strike, a move that might have slowed down the zeal to embark on the protest.

Speaking to THISDAY, a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), who pleaded for anonymity, said it is after the conclusion of a meeting of NEC and consultation with the TUC that the actual date would be announced.
The source said some members of NLC were still uncertain of the strike, adding that persuading them to join the strike would be “the most critical aspect, as some states will not find it easy to join the strike,” the source disclosed.

All efforts to speak with the TUC President, Bobboi Kaigama, were not fruitful as he was not available for comment.
NLC also bemoaned the rise of outsourcing in the country, stating that “the increasing adoption of the neo-liberal policy of outsourcing by many companies and even agencies of government remains high”.
“CWC calls on its affiliate unions to spare no effort at unionising workers engaged by outsourcing agencies in order to ensure fair pay and good conditions of service.

“CWC also calls on the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment which serves as the licensing agency of outsourcing firms to transparently develop criteria for licensing, monitoring and sanctioning the outsourcing firms in conjunction with the tripartite partners,” NLC submitted.