Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Following Government’s inability to meet their demands, the organised Labour has finally declared a nationwide indefinite strike to commence from 3rd October.
Declaring the strike at a press conference Tuesday, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC; and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, said workers decided to down tools to force the Federal Government to address excruciating suffering and hardship that the removal of fuel subsidy had afflicted on Nigerians.
The organised Labour in a joint communiqué after NLC and TUC held separate emergency National Executive Council, NEC, meetings, urged Nigerians to brace up for a protracted strike and use the period up till next Monday to stockpile foodstuff and other necessities.
Both labour centres said they had resolved their differences, and were united in pushing for the forthcoming lockdown until the Federal Government heeds their demands.
NLC and TUC Presidents, Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo, in the joint communique read at the Labour House, Abuja, directed state councils and affiliates of the two centres to mobilise their members and allies for total strike.
According to Labour, the forthcoming strike would be total and indefinite.
Labour accused Government of insensitivity towards the plights of Nigerians following the removal of fuel subsidy.
The communique obtained by Ikengaonline read in part: “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.
“The councils deliberated on the continued refusal of the Federal Government to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue within the ambit 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.”
“The NLC and TUC NEC-in-session observed that 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 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.
“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.
“The grace period given by the two labour centres have expired. The trade unions continue to face severe threats 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 Lagos State Government in total disregard to the courts and the statutes.
“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.
“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, 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.’’