Home News Labour stands firm on nationwide strike, shuns meeting with FG

Labour stands firm on nationwide strike, shuns meeting with FG

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Nigerian labour leaders have insisted on going ahead with their indefinite nationwide strike starting on Tuesday.

On Friday, pilots, engineers and other aviation workers, and electricity union leaders directed their members to join the indefinite strike to protest the mounting hardships foisted on Nigerians due to the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are using the action to drive home their demands after the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant sufferings and hike in prices of goods and services.

The Deputy General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Chris Onyeka told LEADERSHIP Weekend on Friday that the strike would still start on 3rd October as planned.

He said: “We are at an advanced stage of the planning and mobilisation of members for the strike. We have also set up a joint committee between the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and NLC for proper coordination of the strike. Don’t allow anyone to mislead the general public by what the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) said. If we are going to call off the strike, then we will let the public know”.

Both the NLC and TUC, which were scheduled to meet with the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday failed to show up.

On Friday, the NLC condemned the reported statement of the AGF who had tried to dissuade the general public and the two unions from proceeding with the industrial action by describing it as being in clear violation of the judgement of the National Industrial Court.

NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero described the AGF’s statement as unwelcome news because he was trying to exhume the same judgement which was buried when he said, through the Ministry of Justice, that “the formal statement had lapsed due to non-diligent prosecution”.

The aviation unions which issued a joint statement on the indefinite strike are the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP).

In the notice to their branches nationwide by principal deputy general secretary, ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole; deputy general secretary, NAAPE, Comrade Umoh Ofonime, and secretary general, ANAP, Comrade Abdulrasaq Saidu, the unions said that as affiliates of the two Labour centres, “we are obligated to mobilise effectively for the action”.

Parts of the statement read: “All branches of the above-named unions are hereby directed to coalesce within the JAC of your various organisations, together with the respective State Councils of the NLC and TUC in all the states for the nationwide strike commencing from zero hour of Tuesday 3rd day of October 2023.

“All aviation workers must comply to ensure optimal success of this indefinite strike as directed. By this circular, all employers in the aviation industry, and security agencies are accordingly notified”.

Likewise, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has also directed its members to ensure compliance with the nationwide shutdown with effect from Tuesday, 3rd October 2023.

In a letter to all its branches endorsed by its acting general secretary, Dominic Igwebike, the organisation said; “We are to totally withdraw our services and participate in street protests and rallies until the government responds to our demands.

“To this effect, all national, state, and chapter executives are requested to start mobilisation of our members in total compliance with this directive.

“Please note that withdrawal of services nationwide commences from 0.00 hours of Tuesday, 3 October 2023.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, have called on the NLC and TUC to shelve their planned indefinite strike.

During a public lecture and special Juma’at prayer to commemorate Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Anniversary at the National Mosque in Abuja on Friday, President Tinubu appealed to the workers not to embark on the strike action.

Represented by Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, President Tinubu reiterated the commitment of his administration to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on workers and Nigerian masses.

“The Sultan has talked about the issue of strike by NLC. I also call on behalf of His Excellency, the president, and the entire government that the labour leaders should shelve the strike.

“Let’s dialogue, let’s sit together, let’s understand ourselves and let’s look at the prevailing situation in the country. How do we meet this country, the challenges ahead and the current challenges? It is not through dialogue that we can solve our problems collectively.

“This government is new and it is working hard to bring succour to the entire people of this country. It has set aside N500bn, and other packages are being unveiled to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal. Therefore, we need to support and pray for the government,” Senator Jibrin was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesperson, Ismail Mudashir.

Earlier, Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III also appealed to the organised labour to shelve the strike, urging them to give the federal government another chance.

“For God’s sake, for Allah’s sake, anybody planning to go on strike should please give the government another chance. Please rethink and give the government another chance”, he said, emphasising the need for the labour leaders to embrace dialogue.

The Sultan, who said he had been involved in negotiations with labour leaders and government since 2007, said if the NLC and TUC embarked on the strike, it would do more harm than good.

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