Angry workers, pained by the unprecedented harsh, economic conditions in the country, have played their card: in six days they have threatened to embark on a total strike!
The government, both at the Federal and State levels have remained mum, leading bookmakers to suggest that it may call the bluff of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), which called the indefinite and total shutdown of the nation from Tuesday, next week, just two days after Nigeria clocks 63 years as an independent nation.
In addition to calling the bluff, there are fears that counter-measures may come to play, including, but not limited to a clampdown, a media sensitisation blitz.
A third option on the cards, as an appeasement of the two labour unions by meeting their demands halfway without government losing face or appearing weak. In taking this option, Everyday.ng gathered that the unions may have to agree to a structural downsizing, which would see many jobs erased.
In all, there is a nagging snag: the tension that has built up in the country since the announcement of the results of thelast presidential election, the swearing-in of President Bola Tinubu, his controversial announcement of the withdrawal of fuel subsidy a whole month before it was due, and the pervading anger and hunger in the land.
Also in a scary move, the Labour unions have asked Nigerians to stockpile on basic necessities, even when they know there is a shortage of resources to take the advice.
The NLC/TUr’s resolve for a strike came after National Executive Council (NEC) held on Tuesday, 26 September, 2023.
In a communique jointly endorsed by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and TUC President, Festus Osifo, the unions said they came to their decision because of what they described as the pretentious disposition of the federal government at addressing the prevailing hardship and poverty caused by the sudden removal of fuel subsidy.
Please read their joint communique after their executive meetings below:
The National Executive Councils (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in their various meetings deeply analysed the current situation in the country, taking into cognisance the extensive hardships and deprivation afflicting our citizens across all states of the federation unanimously condemned the apparent conscious lethargy and tardiness in handling the consequences of its Petrol Price hike on Nigerians.
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 2-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.
To this end, the NLC and TUC NEC-in-session observed that whereas:
1. 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,
2. The Government has totally abdicated this responsibility and has shown gross unwillingness to act abandoning Nigerian people and
workers to excruciating poverty and affliction.
3. The federal government has continued to grandstand and forestall all avenues to peaceful dialogue with organized labour on ways to save Nigerians from the huge hunger and suffering experienced across the nation as a result of the unconscionable hike in the price of Petrol (PMS) by the Government
4. 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.
5. 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
6. The grace period given by the two labour centres having expired
7. Trade unions continue to face severe threat from the State via the brutal and suppressive power of the Police and Government
8. The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) continues to be illegally occupied by the Government via the instrumentally of the Police who have cloned the leadership of NURTW
9. The Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) continues to be illegally occupied by the Lagos state government in total disregard to the Courts and the statutes
10. 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.
11. 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.
Consequently, the NLC and TUC NEC-in-Session resolved as follows: 1. 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
2. To embark on an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation beginning on zero hours Tuesday, the 3rd day of October, 2023.
3. To direct all workers in Nigeria to withdraw their services from their
respective workplaces commencing from the 3rd of October.
4. To direct all affiliates and state councils to immediately start mobilising accordingly for action to organize street protests and rallies until Government responds positively to our demands
5. 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.
Comrade Joe Ajaero (NLC President)
Comrade Festus Osifo (TUC President)