The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted that it will carry on with its proposed strike action with regards to the recent increase in electricity tariff and the removal of petrol subsidy.
This resolve was taken following a closed-door meeting between the NLC and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.
Mr Gbajabiamila had on Sunday met with representatives of NLC, at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, in an attempt to mediate and broker an amicable solution to the impasse between Organised Labour and the Federal Government (FG).
Briefing journalists after the meeting, NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the proposed strike by the union will proceed unless the FG addresses the issues.
Reacting to the court order restraining the NLC from downing tools, Mr Wabba said the organization has not been served with the order and cannot speak on it.
He, however, noted that there is a judgement of a Federal High court stopping the increase of electricity tariff which the FG has refused to obey.
According to the NLC President, the proposed strike will only fail to hold if the govt makes a u-turn before 12 midnight today.
Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience
At the brief before the closed-door meeting on Sunday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila said Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience as the consequences will be dire on Nigerians who will feel the hardship caused by the industrial action.
He stated that the House of Representatives shares the same thoughts and philosophy with the NLC as regards the plight of workers and the House of Reps championed the cause of free electricity and had advised that the hike in tariff be put in effect from 2021.
Nevertheless, the Speaker said he worries about the consequences of the strike and what will be achieved at the end.
In reply to the Speaker’s comments, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba argued that the increase in electricity tariff and removal of petrol subsidy is bringing hardship on Nigerians, stressing that the organization is asking the FG to reverse these policy decisions.
Do not join Labour strike
On Saturday, September 26, the Federal Government warned civil servants against participating in the planned nationwide strike called by the organised Labour.
In a statement, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, asked civil servants to be at work, saying the government is engaging with the union officials over the issue.
“Accordingly, all officers on grade level 12 and above and those on essential services are hereby strongly advised to be at work to perform their official duties.
“Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers are, therefore, enjoined to bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all concerned officers and ensure strict compliance,” the statement partly read.
This communique comes a day after the FG obtained a fresh order barring the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.
Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja again issued the restraining order following an ex-parte application by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Though the court order has been granted against its industrial action, the NLC has asked its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest.
In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobilise at least 2000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.
Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7 am also.
Ahead of the threat by the NLC to resort to an industrial action to force the Federal Government to rescind its decision to hike oil and electricity prices in the country, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held an emergency meeting.
Arising from the meeting, the governors cautioned the NLC against the planned strike, arguing that any plan to down tools will worsen the currently deteriorating economic situation of the country occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It remains uncertain how the situation will turn out even as the NLC and its affiliates have insisted to move on with their plans if the government refuses to budge to the Union’s demands.