In anticipation of the Nigeria Labour Congress’s (NLC) two-day nationwide warning strike set to begin tomorrow, public institutions, including schools, hospitals, seaports, and airports, are gearing up for potential worker mobilization. This marks the third strike since the removal of fuel subsidies in June, as around 52 NLC affiliates intensify efforts for a complete shutdown. They cite the Federal Government’s failure to address citizens’ suffering and hardship as the primary reason for their action.
NLC President, Joe Ajaero, emphasizes that this strike will proceed as scheduled without last-minute suspensions, asserting that the government has disregarded crucial engagement with stakeholders through social dialogue. The failure to reach an agreement on the consequences of rising petroleum prices, which have imposed significant hardships on workers and the masses, is at the heart of the dispute.
Circulars issued by several affiliates, including the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions (NUBIFIE), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), and the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), instruct national, state, and chapter executives to mobilize for full compliance. They aim to dissuade the government from intimidating unions and curb the worsening economic situation.
In the telecommunications sector, the Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN) states that its members will actively participate in the strike, potentially leaving critical services unattended during this warning strike period.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, will lead a conciliation team in an attempt to resolve the dispute between the Federal Government and Organized Labour, with one grievance being the occupation of the NURTW headquarters by security agencies.
Furthermore, the Federal Government has maintained silence regarding the implementation of the 2023 Fiscal Policy Measures and Customs, Excise Tariff that began on August 1 and September 1, 2023, respectively. These measures include tax changes affecting various sectors, such as a 10% tax on digital assets, increased Tertiary Education Tax rates, and Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods purchased via electronic platforms.
Despite the tax deferrals signed by President Tinubu in July, stakeholders have expressed concerns about the multiplicity of taxes, which pose challenges to businesses in Nigeria. These taxes range from corporate income tax to import duties, making tax compliance a complex issue for businesses.
In summary, as the NLC proceeds with its strike, the government faces mounting concerns over taxation and the need to engage with unions to address the nation’s economic challenges.