Ahead Of Commencement Of Strike, Organised Labour Spits Fire

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With less than 24 hours to the commencement of the nationwide strike by the Organised Labour in the country over a new national minimum wage and hike in electricity tariff, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero has said that the Federal Government can only call for a continuation of the wage negotiation and not announcing an award.

The NLC President noted that as of today, there is no minimum wage for Nigerian workers, stressing that technically, the minimum wage expired on the 18th of April, 2024.

He said that the country is presently operating without any law backing up the minimum wage, adding that even at that the government is about a 100 per cent increase which only amounts to one loaf of bread per day for 30 days.

He said that the unfortunate thing is the refusal of the government to look into the quality and the value of what they are offering to Nigerian workers.

Comrade Ajaero, who stated this in response to the Government position on award announced by the Minister of Information and National Orientaion, Mr. Mohammed Idris on Saturday, said the Government cannot just say; “we are giving you this”.

In the words of Ajaero; “Calling us does not mean agreement. Until we sign an agreement on what is mutually agreeable by the parties, action will be on.

“But action is not such that we will not equally negotiate, because the two parties are now going to negotiate under duress. We are under pressure. That is the meaning of this. So the earlier we resolve it, the better for us.

“We have to sit down and negotiate from where we are today. It is like calling us tomorrow to say let us continue with the negotiation. We will negotiate from there, but not to call us to say we are giving you N10 or N20, that will be out of the concept of negotiation,” the NLC President said.

This was as members of the Organised Labour including those in the Oil, Electricity, Financial, Aviation and other critical sectors have pledged their total support for the indefinite strike declared by NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).

Commenting on the mobilisation of workers at the state level, the NLC President, said the National Executive Council (NEC), of any labour centre, comprises all the states and all the unions, adding that was where the NLC and TUC National leadership got their mandate from.

He further said; “You equally witnessed it on May Day when all workers gathered nationwide, and this pronouncement was made. In fact, it was a public one. It is not like there were two or three people. It was mass based.

“There is nobody that can move on with this arrangement being done with inflation and devaluation. Everything is open. If we take even the N600,000 they are proposing today, by next week, it will not make any impact. So, we have to look at them holistically and see what we can do to save the working class in Nigeria.

“We are not doing a strike that will be one month without a bite. I’m not sure where you have labour centres in a country embarking on a strike for one month and you don’t listen to them,” Ajaero said.

As part of the mobilisation for the Nationwide strike, the NLC, in a circular to all State Councils by its General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, said the commencement of the proposed indefinite nationwide strike is Monday, June 3, 2024.

Ogboaja said the strike is as a result of the failure of the Nigerian state to agree on a new national minimum wage and subsequently pass it into law before the end of May 2024 as they were notified as well as a reversal of the hike in electricity tariff from N66/kwh to N225/kwh without consulting the stakeholders as required by the law and to stop the apartheid categorisation of Nigerian electricity consumers into Bands.

In the words of Ogboaja; “We kindly request all State Councils to mobilise all their affiliates and members across the state to stay away from work commencing Midnight, this Sunday to ensure a comprehensive closure of all workplaces”.

The NLC Secretary General also urged the State Councils to set up joint Action Committees with the Trade Union Congress in the state for effective coordination of the strike action.

He said; “We would be glad to receive continuous updates of your effort. Do remember that the success of this action is dependent on our collective determination and resolve.”

 

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