Nationwide strike: Stock up your homes, Labour tells Nigerians

Organised Labour has asked Nigerians to stock up their homes ahead of a nationwide strike billed to commence October 3.


General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Emmanuel Ugboaja said this during a joint briefing addressed by the President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Festus Osifo on Tuesday in Abuja. 
The labour leaders said the National Executive Councils (NEC) of the NLC and 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 and unanimously condemned the apparent conscious lethargy and tardiness in handling the consequences of its petrol price hike on Nigerians.”

Barring last minute intervention by the Federal Government, the organised labour has directed all workers in Nigeria to withdraw their services from their respective workplaces commencing from the 3rd of October.
It directed all affiliates and state councils to immediately start mobilising for industrial action, urging them to organise street protests and rallies until the government responded positively to its demands.

Labour’s position followed the expiration of a 21 – day ultimatum issued to the government on September 1.

That ultimatum ended on Friday.
Prior to the expiration of the 21 day ultimatum, the NLC had embarked on a two – day warning strike between 5th and 6th of this month to drive home its demands. 

The TUC didn’t take part in the warning strike, saying it preferred to dialogue with the government before resorting to industrial action. 

Some of the demands put before the government by labour included wage award and tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers.
Others are: provision of Compressed Natural Gas buses, release of modalities for the N70bn for Small and Medium Enterprises, release of officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers by the police, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria crisis in Lagos, among others. 
The demands also included the immediate reversal of all anti-poor policies of the Federal Government, including the recent hike in PMS price, increase in public school fees, the release of the eight months withheld salaries of university teachers and workers as well as the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT).
On Friday the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong secured the release of the elected members of NURTW. 
The release of the officials was one of the key demands of the NLC. The other is the wage award. 
Speaking during the joint press conference at the end of an emergency NEC to review discussions with government, Ajaero said there was 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 labour leader said the government had “totally abdicated its responsibility” and had “shown gross unwillingness to act abandoning Nigerian people and workers to excruciating poverty and affliction.”
According to him, the federal government has 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 nation as a result of the unconscionable hike in the price of petrol (PMS) by the government.”
Ajaero said: “The National Executive Councils (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in their various meetings deeply analyzed 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.
“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.
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“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.
“The grace period given by the two labour centres has expired. 
“Trade unions continue to face severe threat from the State via the brutal and suppressive power of the Police and Government. 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. 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.
“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 campaigns 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.”
Reading the resolutions reached at the NEC meeting, Osifo said: “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 the 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.”
Lalong couldn’t be reached for comments.
The minister was yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report. 
But the Director of Press and Public Relations of the ministry, Olajide Oshundun said: “Before the end of the one week, I can assure you there will be development and that strike will not hold.”

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