The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has announced that it will not partake in the nationwide warning strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which was set to commence tomorrow.
Comrade Festus Osifo, President of the TUC, has urged the NLC to prioritize dialogue with the government, a method already embraced by the TUC. Osifo stated, “As of today, the need to embark on a nationwide strike hasn’t arisen hence the leadership of congress should intensify the conversation with the government so that all grey areas identified could be ironed out within the time frame given.” This statement came after his meeting with Labour Minister Simon Lalong.
Last week, the NLC declared its intention to carry out the warning strike, followed by a general strike in three weeks to protest the government’s decision to eliminate the petrol subsidy, which had cost the government approximately $10 billion annually.
This action follows a strike by the unions a month ago, which was temporarily suspended due to government promises of negotiations. However, these talks failed to produce concessions substantial enough to satisfy organized labor.
Union leader Joe Ajaero criticized the government’s refusal to engage in meaningful discussions, particularly regarding the consequences of the petrol price hike, which has caused widespread suffering among Nigerian workers and citizens.
The NLC rejected talks with the newly appointed Labour Minister, Simon Lalong, on Monday, asserting its determination to proceed with the warning strike as a prelude to a “total and indefinite shutdown of the nation” later in the month.
Ajaero emphasized that the strike could only be averted if the government took concrete steps to address the “excruciating mass suffering and impoverishment being experienced around the country.”
In response, Lalong appealed to the NLC to reconsider the strike, citing its potential harm to the government’s plans. He assured the public that the government was committed to addressing issues raised by labor unions.
Lalong highlighted that the new cabinet had only recently been sworn in and needed time to address the concerns raised. He reassured Nigerian workers of the government’s dedication to policies promoting employment and resolving immediate challenges.
Additionally, Lalong revealed that his ministry had not received formal notification of the planned strike, as required by law.
During the meeting with TUC, Osifo emphasized various pressing issues, including the implementation of palliatives, wage awards, tax exemptions, allowances for public sector workers, and the resolution of the RTEAN crisis.
He pledged that the TUC leadership would maintain its engagement with the federal government to ensure that their demands are properly addressed.