Labour faults FG’s meeting, insists on indefinite strike
Written by Adeola Ibrahim on September 28, 2023
The National Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress, Tommy Etim, said nothing would stop the strike, noting that Nigerian workers were disenchanted with the Federal Government.
He stated that the unions had given the government sufficient time to address their demands, stressing that the workers would not allow themselves to be deceived any longer.
Etim told newsmen on Wednesday that any fresh meeting was pointless and asked Nigerians to brace for the long-drawn walkout.
‘’The government had been given more than enough time to meet our demands but they did nothing. The strike has been fixed, nothing will stop it and if they (FG) like, they can go to court as usual. The only thing that can stop the strike is if they meet all our demands,’’ he stated.
Asked what Nigerians should expect during the industrial action, the labour leader added, ‘’It will not just be a total shutdown of the nation, it is going to be the mother of all strikes. Do you know that they are even planning to sack 17,000 workers in this period when Nigerians are suffering great hardships?’’
Also, a top official of the NLC while speaking on the proposed strike, said, “The issues are straightforward, NLC’s joint communiqué was very clear. NLC has declared an indefinite nationwide strike which is to begin on October 3, 2023, and nothing will make us not to start unless the government does everything we have said they should do.’’
Asked if the unions would shelve their plan if invited to a meeting by FG, the union leader noted, ‘’No meeting or promise that would make us stop; the only thing that would make us stop is the fulfilment of all those demands, nothing else.”
Fuel scarcity, blackout
Meanwhile, Nigerians may have to brace for fuel scarcity and nationwide blackout from Tuesday as the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers and the National Union of Electricity Employees have vowed to join the indefinite strike declared by the NLC and TUC.
Also, the health workers said that they would not be available to attend to patients at the hospitals while the judiciary staff disclosed that the courts would be shut down nationwide.
Senior officials of NUPENG and NUEE told our correspondent on Wednesday that the unions would ground petrol and electricity supply once the strike begins.
NUPENG’s National President, Williams Akporeha, said the union would implement every instruction issued by the NLC, adding that it was non-negotiable for NUPENG to join the strike.
On Tuesday, the NLC and TUC announced an indefinite strike with effect from October 3, to protest the alleged failure of the Federal Government to provide post-subsidy palliatives for workers and implement policies that could alleviate the sufferings of the masses after the removal of the fuel subsidy.
After the 21-day ultimatum given by the NLC lapsed last week, the National President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, had lamented that none of the demands put before the government had been addressed.
Responding to a question on whether NUPENG would join the proposed strike, Akporeha said, “We are an affiliate of NLC and we will follow their directives to the letter.”
The NLC has over 40 affiliate unions, while the TUC has about 30 and the affiliates often participate in industrial actions called by the parent associations.
Also confirming the resolve of NUEE to comply with the strike directive, the acting General Secretary of the union, Dominic Igwebuike, said the association would ground power supply if the government fails to avert the proposed walkout.
“NUEE is an affiliate of NLC and we are complying with the directive of the congress by joining the strike from Tuesday. Workers in various electricity companies are our members.
“So, we are ready to join the strike and our circular communicated that to our members. So, electricity workers are right now getting set to join the strike and this will lead to a massive shutdown of the power sector,” he stated.
Igwebuike had earlier said though the power sector employees were regarded as essential workers, they would still join the proposed strike.
He noted, “People in the power sector are also Nigerians. There is no different market for people working in the essential services sectors. We all go to the same markets, pay school fees, buy fuel and face the same challenges. So we are Nigerians too.”