Last minutes efforts by the Nigerian government to prevail on organised labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trace Union Congress (TUC), to shelve their planned nationwide strike scheduled for October 3rd, was rebuffed by leaders of the two unions.
Both groups boycotted an emergency meeting called by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong on Friday.
The planned nationwide strike, according to the Unions, is aimed at prevailing on the Federal Government to address perceived insensitivity to the plights of Nigerians as a result of the removal of petrol subsidy and continuous demonstration of unwillingness and complete lack of initiative.
They also accused the Federal Government of refusing to “meaningfully engage and reach agreements with organised labour on critical issues of the consequences of the unfortunate hike in the price of petrol, which has unleashed massive suffering on Nigeria workers and masses.”
Lalong, on behalf of the Federal Government, had invited the union leaders for an emergency meeting scheduled for 3pm on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with the aim of persuading them to abandon the proposed plan and give the government more time to meet with their demands.
However, the efforts of the Federal Government turned out to be in vain as leaders of the two unions reportedly shunned the meeting with the excuse that government’s invitation came late as they had scheduled engagements outside the federal capital.
According to insider reports, the NLC and its TUC counterpart had received the government’s invitation on Friday morning through the Ministry of Labour and Employment and based on the short notice, could not get all its leaders across the country to proceed to Abuja for the meeting.
The organised labour had, on September 26, given notice to the government of its intention to commence an indefinite strike on October 3 to protest the cost of living crisis after the scrapping of petrol subsidy by President Bola Tinubu during his inauguration on May 29, 2023.
The unions had also directed their state chapters and affiliates to mobilise for a shutdown of critical facilities and infrastructure such as airports, seaports, electricity grids and fuel supply nationwide.
In a statement by the National Deputy President of the TUC, Tommy Etim, the union insisted that there was no going back on the industrial action.
“It’s going to be a total shutdown until the government meets the demand of Nigerian workers, and in fact, Nigerian masses,” the statement affirmed.
The unions also accused the FG of trying to blackmail and arm twist its leaders by resorting to threats of an existing court order to intimidate them.
The claim followed a warning by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, that the proposed strike contravenes a subsisting court order restraining the unions from declaring an industrial action.
The statement insisted that the labour leaders would not succumb to any threat by the government, noting that they were ready to go to prison in their fight for better lives for Nigerian workers.
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