Workers Ignore NLC Directive on Strike in Abuja as Union Leaders Force Anambra Staff to Comply

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By James Emejo in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

Virtually all the banks in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja opened for business Thursday, ignoring the directive by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to commence strike to protest the failure of the federal government to agree on a new minimum wage for workers.

This is as the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and NLC officials forced workers in Anambra State to comply with its directive as they go from office to office in Awka, the state capital, to drive the workers out.

THISDAY findings revealed that all the banks on Gana Street, Maitama, including Access Bank, Ecobank, Diamond, UBA and FCMB, among others opened for normal business activities.

Also, a visit to both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) revealed normal work activities.

However, in other ministries including Agriculture and Rural Development and the Budget and National Planning, civil servants complied with the NLC directive.

While the entrance to the Ministry of Agriculture was not opened to staff, workers who turned up for a promotion exam at the Ministry of Budget and National Planning were told the exam had been postponed as a result of the strike.

Workers at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) flouted the NLC directive as they were seen doing their normal everyday work.
Meanwhile, the TUC and NLC team, which was led by the leaders of the unions in Anambra State were despatched to various establishments, including the state secretariat, judiciary complex, Federal High Court and others, where they locked up the offices, chasing workers out of their offices.

Though the state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Jerry Nnubia, declined interview with journalists, a leader of the union in the state who craved anonymity, said their action was just to comply with the directive from the national body, as workers in the state do not have any issue with the state government.

The Head of Service in the state, Mr. Harry Uduh, who spoke with journalists, said he understands the plight of the union and the need for them to carry out the enforcement, but said the state government has been very friendly with workers, and have always paid them promptly.

He said the enforcement of the strike has nothing to do with the state government/workers relationship, while urging them to put a human face to their enforcement to ensure that they do not bring the activities of the government to a close.

“As you can see, some workers complied with the strike, but we still have our key staff in the ministries who can help in the running of things.

“As we speak, workers in Anambra State have been paid their September salaries, and we are not owing anyone, so it would be unfair to shut down the activities of this government, inasmuch as we know that it is a nationwide strike,” Uduh said.

Meanwhile, the strike witnessed an insignificant level of compliance in other section of the state as teachers were seen in schools, and bank staff were also attending to customers and others were at their duty post, when THISDAY went round the capital city of Awka to monitor compliance of the strike.

Petrol stations were also open and it was difficult to believe that there was strike in the state.

At the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Awka, all the workers, including doctors, nurses and other health professionals were attending to the large number of patients seen in various departments of the hospitals.

The Ukwu Oji area of Awka, which is mostly dominated by banks and usually very busy was the same as other days, all through the day and vehicular and human traffic did not cease throughout the day as workers remained at work.