The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has announced its decision not to participate in the nationwide warning strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which is set to commence on Tuesday.
This development comes after a meeting between the TUC and the federal government, which the NLC shunned. The NLC had shunned the meeting, which took place in Abuja on Monday evening – saying that the government is not serious.
The meeting was facilitated by the Minister of Labour Simon Lalong.
Though the NLC president, Joe Ajaero, earlier admitted that part of the union’s policies and structure permits it to negotiate even if at the last minute, he explained that the reason for turning his back on the meeting is because “the people we are dealing with are not serious.”
“The federal government has refused to engage and reach agreement with organized labour on the critical issues of the consequences of the unfortunate hike in the price of petrol which has unleashed massive suffering on Nigerian workers and masses,” Ajaero said.
But the president of the TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo urged the NLC to intensify dialogue with the government.
“As of today, the need to embark on a nationwide strike hasn’t arisen hence the leadership of congress should intensify the conversation with government so that all grey areas identified could be ironed out within the time frame given”, Osifo said after meeting Labour Minister Simon Lalong.
The organized labor made up of the NLC and the TUC, had last week declared that its members will embark on the warning strike from Tuesday.
Ajaero said it will embark on the warning strike in preparation for a “total and indefinite shutdown of the nation” later in the month.
A month ago, the Unions initiated a strike, but they temporarily halted their protest after the government extended an invitation for negotiations. However, these discussions failed to yield adequate concessions to satisfy the organized labor.
Ajaero emphasized that the strike could only be prevented if the government took measures to alleviate the “widespread and unbearable suffering and poverty affecting people across the nation.”
In response to this development, Lalong appealed to the NLC to shelve the strike. He said in a statement that the cabinet of President Bola Tinubu is newly formed, and needs more time to address the concerns of the people.
“It has become pertinent to appeal to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to suspend its intended two-day warning strike; as such action would be detrimental to the gains already being recorded on our course to securing a greater future for Nigerian workers and citizens at large
“It should be realized that the cabinet of this administration was only recently sworn in by Mr. President and all cabinet members have hit the ground running by receiving briefings from their MDAs.
“Therefore, the issues raised by the leadership of the NLC are some issues that I and the Hon. Minister of State for Labour and Employment are being briefed upon. In the next few weeks, we intend to address them holistically.
“Consequently, I use this opportunity to reassure Nigerian workers that this government would never take them for granted nor fail to appreciate their support and understanding.
“We shall continue to pursue policies aimed at massive employment generation in all sectors of the economy as well as look into immediate challenges that have emerged from the policies of the government. We cannot do this in an atmosphere devoid of industrial peace,” he said.
Lalong added that his ministry had not been formally informed about the upcoming strike, as mandated by legal requirements.
Several NLC affiliates, including the National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), have announced their decision to join the strike.
However, the decision of the TUC to pull out has presented a challenge that will likely change the planned strike or make it ineffectual.