Say:“Government has continued to demonstrate not just an unwillingness to mitigate the massive hardship in the country but also a complete lack of intention to take positive steps and empathy for the multi-dimensionally impoverished citizens of Nigeria. “
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The two trade union centres in the country, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), have directed all their affiliates to commence an indefinite strike by midnight, Tuesday, October 3. The decision was reached after the National Executive Council (NEC) meetings of the two labour centres held yesterday in Abuja
In a joint communiqué signed by NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and TUC President, Festus Osifo, the unions stated that organised labour had resolved, “To embark on an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation beginning on zero hours Tuesday, the 3rd day of October, 2023.”
They said the unions deeply analysed the current situation in the country, taking into cognisance the extensive hardship and deprivation afflicting citizens across all states of the federation, and unanimously condemned the federal government’s apparent conscious lethargy and tardiness in handling the consequences of its petrol price hike on Nigerians.
In the communiqué, NLC and TUC accused the federal government of totally abdicating its responsibility and exhibiting gross unwillingness to act and resolve the issues, thereby abandoning the Nigerian people and workers to excruciating poverty and affliction.
They also said the federal government had continued to grandstand and forestall all avenues to peaceful dialogue with organised labour on ways to save Nigerians from the huge hunger and suffering experienced across the country as a result of the unconscionable hike in the price of petrol by the government.
The communiqué jointly read by Ajaero and Osifo further stated, “Government has continued to demonstrate not just an unwillingness to mitigate the massive hardship in the country but also a complete lack of intention to take positive steps and empathy for the multi-dimensionally impoverished citizens of Nigeria.”
They also said the federal government was yet to meet in any substantial way, the demands of Nigerian workers and people as previously canvassed in their mutually agreed roadmap to salvaging the economy and protecting workers and Nigerians from the monumental hardship
The communique stated, “The grace period given by the two labour centres having expired. The councils deliberated on the continued refusal of the federal government to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue within the ambits of good faith, given the 21 days ultimatum and the subsequent successful two-day nationwide warning strike of the 5th and 6th of September and other meetings that were supposed to demonstrate the preparedness of Nigerian workers to push through their decision to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike if their demands were not met.
“Consequently, the NLC and TUC NEC-in-Session resolved as follows:
“To, in the spirit of the Independence Day celebration and to demonstrate our resolve for a truly independent Nigeria to take our destinies in our own hands and rescue our nation.
“To embark on an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation beginning on zero hours Tuesday, the 3rd day of October, 2023.
“To direct all workers in Nigeria to withdraw their services from their respective workplaces commencing from the 3rd of October.
“To direct all affiliates and state councils to immediately start mobilising accordingly for action to organise street protests and rallies until government responds positively to our demands
“To enjoin all patriotic Nigerians to join hands across the nation to assist this government put the people back at the centre of its policies and programmes.”
Furthermore, NLC and TUC NEC-in-session noted that they had observed, “There is no disagreement between labour and government on the existence of massive suffering, impoverishment and hunger in the country as a result of the hike in the price of petrol, which demands an urgent need for remedial action.
“The government has totally abdicated this responsibility and has shown gross unwillingness to act, abandoning Nigerian people and workers to excruciating poverty and affliction.
“The government has continued to demonstrate not just an unwillingness to mitigate the massive hardship in the country but also a complete lack of intention to take positive steps and empathy for the multi-dimensionally impoverished citizens of Nigeria.
“The federal government has, therefore, not met in any substantial way, the demands of Nigerian workers and peoples as previously canvassed in our mutually agreed roadmap to salvaging the economy and protecting workers and Nigerians from the monumental hardship.”
At the expiration of the grace period given by the two labour centres, they alleged that their affiliate unions had continued to face severe threat from the state via the brutal and suppressive power of the Nigeria Police and government.
The labour movement said National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) “continues to be illegally occupied by the government via the instrumentality of the police who have cloned the leadership of NURTW.”
In addition, they said Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) had continued to be illegally occupied by the Lagos State government in total disregard of the courts and the statutes
NLC and TUC stated in the communique, “That the state within the life of the ultimatum via the police has caused loss of lives and properties with untold injuries on Nigerian workers, who were on their way to go back to their union’s national headquarters in Abuja.
“That the state has continued to blackmail and sponsor serious campaign of calumny against trade union leaders in the social media, using its buying and coercive powers, instead of making efforts to lift the burden on the masses.”
In a statement on Monday by Director, Press and Public Relations Unit, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, had appealed to the labour unions not to down tools.
Lalong noted that securing the release of the detained NURTW members was one of the demands of NLC at last week’s meeting between the congress and the ministry. He had assured them that the processes leading to the fulfilment of the other requests of NLC, especially wage award, were on course, and would be concluded soon.
“The minister, therefore, called on the NLC not to embark on their planned strike, and allow government work to resolve all pending issues,” Oshundun said.