Nationwide Strike: Labour Records Partial Success


Our Correspondents

Mixed reactions yesterday trailed the nationwide industrial action embarked upon by members of the organised labour.

The strike, which commenced midnight Wednesday, failed to get the expected bite as some critical services sectors like the banks and petrol stations were still in operation across the  states of the federation and Abuja.

The industrial action was declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to protest the failure of government to agree to a new minimum wage for workers.  However, strike saw many federal civil servants, teachers in public schools  staying away from work across the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Katsina Stands Still over Strike  

Academic and office activities were yesterday grounded in Katsina State as the nationwide warning strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) commenced.

The strike followed the inability of federal government to meet the demands of the union despite numerous meetings.

THISDAY who visited the state and federal secretariats observed that offices were under lock and key as few staff were seen in groups outside the gate discussing.

Similarly, activities at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Hassan Usman Polytechnic and Federal College of Education, were equally paralysed, as most students were spotted stranded at the institutions’ gate.

However, when THISDAY visited Al-Qalam University, a privately-owned institution, students were busy writing their second semester examinations, despite NLC directive that all private institutions should join the strike.

At the General Hospital, Katsina, doctors and nurses were seen rendering skeletal services to patients, as the administrative block of the hospital was shut down, while normal activities were ongoing at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Katsina as at press time. Officials of organised labour in the state were sighted as early as 7a.m going round all institutions, ministries and parastatals to enforce the directives from the national headquarters.

The state Chairman of NLC, Comrade Tanimu Saulawa, in a telephone interview, expressed satisfaction with compliance with the union’s directive, adding that the strike was over 90 per cent successful in the state.

Kwara NLC Joins National Strike

The directive of the national leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)over the non-implementation of minimum wage by the federal government was fully complied with yesterday in Kwara State, yesterday as workers in the state, local government and banks stayed away from work.

Students in various public schools were seen returning to their respective homes, when their teachers were not available in schools to teach them.

Also, the headquarters of  the Ilorin West Local Government was under lock and key as no worker was seen around except the security officials. The banks too  did not open offices to their various customers, even their officials were inside doing skeletal services.

Benin Airport Gates Shut against Passengers, Workers

In compliance with the industrial action embarked upon by the labour union over minimum wage, the Benin Airport gates were on yesterday shut against passengers.

Prospective travellers who had early morning flight to catch were left stranded at the gates of the airport as a result of the strike. While hundreds of the passengers who gathered  around the gates were seen discussing the effect of the strike action  in low tone, security personnel had a hectic time trying to explain reason for the closure to some passengers.

Vehicles trying to gain entry into the airport, resulted in gridlock up around airport road. The state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Emmanuel Ademokun, who spoke with journalists, expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance saying he and his team were going about to ensure total compliance with the directive.

Public Offices, Banks, Schools Shut in Ondo

Banks, public offices, hospitals, public schools and government media organisations were shut down yesterday in Ondo State in compliance with the nationwide warning strike declared by the organised labour unions over the issue of minimum wage.

When THISDAY went round some  public offices in Akure, Ondo town, Ikare-Akoko and Owo gates of these offices were shut as workers refused to report for duties.

At Alagbaka, Akure areas where many banks were located, gates of the financial institutions were shut against customers though there were signs that workers were inside the banks buildings. The entire judicial services were paralysed as gates of the state High Court, National Industrial Court, Appeal Court and Federal High Court and Magistrate Court located at Oke-Eda, Alagbaka and Igbatoro road in Akure were under lock and key when THISDAY visited the courts.

However, customers made use of banks’ ATMs freely while security agency’s particularly policemen were seen patrolling major streets and roads without much noise.

The Ondo State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Soladoye Ekundayo, Tayo Ogunleye of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) represented by the state Secretary, Alhaji Adewale Sanusi and the Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), Abel Oloniyo, led other labour leaders to move round public offices to enforce the strike in the state.

Commercial Activities Halted in Jos

Following the call by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for a national strike to protest against the federal government failure to meet their demand for an increase in the national minimum wage, commercial activities in Jos , Plateau State capital were brought to a halt, as work places, school, banks were closed.

The gates leading to the state secretariat were locked

Similarly, the  Jos campus of the  Plateau State Polytechnic    located in Hwolse was also closed down.

Some banks which initially opened to customers later locked them out. Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC) was also locked. Speaking to  THISDAY at the gate of JEDC John  Sule, the Assistant State Secretary of the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC), said “coming out from an emergency meeting of SEC of ULC, Plateau State, the council resolved to comply with the directive of the ULC, NLC and TUC to go on strike.”

Strike Cripples Activities in Lagos Schools, Secretariat High Court

Following the nationwide strike declared by the leadership of labour unions over new minimum wage, public schools secretariat and Lagos State Judiciary were shut yesterday.

Workers in compliance with the directive stayed away to observe the nationwide strike called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to press home their demand.

All the doors of the Lagos High Court rooms were chained and padlocked by workers to prevent proceedings from taking place. As a result, lawyers and litigants who came to the courts were turned back at the gate by security guards keeping watch over the court premises.

Even the Chief Registrar, Mrs. Taiwo Olatokun, who arrived the Ikeja High Court in the morning, could not gain access to her office as the main door of the administrative building was also put in chain and padlock. Olatokun stood by the main gate and was seen discussing with some heads of departments of the judiciary.

Strike Records Mixed Reactions in Kaduna

There was partial compliance with the warning strike embarked upon  by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)  for a new national minimum wage for  civil servants in the country in Kaduna State.

At the state secretariat, along Independence Way, Kaduna, workers were seen at their duty posts going about their normal duties.  Also at the  Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital, nurses and doctors were seen attending to their  patients. Many public schools, some banks and courts  in the state capital were also opened.  But some commercial banks like First Bank, Union Bank and Ecobanks did not officially  open for business even though they were seen attending to customers discreetly from the back door.

But  the gates of the  Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Kaduna and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in the city  were said to have been locked up by an enforcement task force of the NLC.  Some of the workers who were seen on their duty posts said apart from the announcements on the television, there was no any formal directive from  the leadership of the state chapter of the NLC.

Officials of the state chapter of the  union were said to be holding a meeting when our correspondent visited their secretariat along Independence Way, Kaduna.

Sokoto Records Partial Compliance

The strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) witnessed a partial compliance in Sokoto State.

THISDAY checks in Sokoto metropolis yesterday revealed that some commercial banks were currently attending to customers.

However,  banks like Access Bank and GT Bank that attended to customers earlier in the day, decided to close their gate in the afternoon, thereby preventing customers from entering the premises. A staff of one of the commercial banks who pleaded anonymity, told THISDAY that an official of the NLC had approached them to stop work but was ignored.

However,  both federal and state government-owned hospitals especially Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital and Sokoto Specialist Hospital were working, as well as higher institutions, while courts were shut when THISDAY visited the area. THISDAY gathered that some primary and secondary schools in the metropolis were also shut.

Some offices were opened at the federal secretariat but few officials were seen, as majority of them were paramilitary personnel. Commenting on the strike, the Chairman of the Sokoto State chapter of the NLC, Alhaji Aminu Umar, said  100 per cent compliance would be expected in the next few days.

Govt Offices Shut down in Anambra

A team of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday went from one government office to the other to enforce compliance of the recently declared nationwide strike.

The team which was led by leaders of the unions were dispatched 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  preferred anonyanity 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, 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.

NLC Calls for the Resignation of  Kogi HOS

The organised labour in Kogi State has called for the immediate resignation of the State Head of Service, Mrs. Deborah Ogunmola, for her anti-labour posture on the issue of welfare of civil servants.

However,  all business activities in the state have been paralysed following the seven day strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress.   Banks,  ministries,  institutions and other federal government agencies honoured the strike as they all closed for business transactions in the state.

All public schools, federal and state hospitals were all shut down as a result of the strike.

However, a statement signed by the secretaries of Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Alhaji Isah Abubakar, NLC’s Faniyi Olakunle and Trade Union Congress, Kolawole James, accused the HOS of threatening to apply ‘no work, no pay’ rule should the workers of Kogi State heed the directive of the national body of the labour centres to embark on nationwide strike, to press home their demand for a new national minimum wage.

Bauchi Workers Comply with Strike

As the nationwide total strike action declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) commenced yesterday, Bauchi State civil servants complied with the call even as NLC leaders in the State went round all establishments particularly government offices to ensure compliance with the directive,  forcing workers who had turned up for work to go back home and lock up the offices.

THISDAY who monitored the compliance level of the strike in the state capital, reported that  at the Abubakar Umar State Secretariat and the Federal Secretariat, officials of NLC were seen at the gates turning back all civil servants who came for work while only political appointees and security personnel were allowed in briefly.

Striking Workers Assault Para-Military Officer in Mufti

Striking workers loyal to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Akwa Ibom State yesterday reportedly assaulted a para-military officer at the Federal Secretariat, Uyo, the state capital in an attempt to enforce the ongoing nation-wide strike by labour.

Eyewitnesse told THISDAY that the officer who was in mufti, could not explain himself when members of the State NLC visited the secretariat at about 9a.m to ensure the workers complied with the stay at home directive over non-implementation of new minimum wage.

The para-military officer of one of the units was allegedly rescued by his colleagues who rushed out from the office to intervene and that saved him from further beating by the NLC officials.

Some of the workers who reported to work due to their ignorance of the strike ran helter-skelter to leave the premises on seeing how the para-military officer was manhandled.

The Federal Secretariat situated on Abak road that harbours more than 50 ministries was completely deserted at the time of visit as only few para-military officials were seen on duty.

Similarly, political appointees and civil servants were stopped from going into the Idongesit Nkanga State Secretariat also on Abak road as the gates were lucked.

When THISDAY visited the secretariat, members of the NLC had barricaded the entrance to the secretariat with their vehicles, beating drums and dancing at the main gate,