September 24, 2023

Hardship: Labour uncovers plot to sabotage struggle on palliatives

August 2 Strike: FG robbing masses for the rich — NLC fumes

—NLC NEC meets tomorrow to decide next action

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE organized labour has raised the alarm over the alleged sponsor of some groups by suspected agents of government to sabotage the ongoing struggle to compel government to roll out palliatives to cushion the negative effects of subsidy removal on petrol.

Recall that since May 29 President Bola Tinubu announced that subsidy is gone after being sworn-in, prices of goods and services have gone up, thereby causing untold hardships to the people.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had made some demands from the government as palliatives to cushion the ongoing hardship which include wage award, tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers.

Others are provision of Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, buses, release of modalities for the N70 billion for Small and Medium Enterprises, release of officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers by the police, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria crisis in Lagos, among others.

As the 21 day ultimatum the NLC issued to government after a two day warning strike on September 5 and 6 expired without any tangible results, the Congress has called for a National Executive Council, NEC, meeting on Tuesday to review the situation and then take decision on the next step to take.

Ahead of the meeting, the NLC, has raised the alarm that instead of addressing the problems in the land as regards the hardship occasioned by the petrol subsidy removal, the government is allegedly using some associations and groups to sabotage the struggle, which it claimed is in the interest of the masses.

An impeccable source privy to struggle told Vanguard on Sunday that the government is working hard to use some members of the Union and some associations to discredit the struggle with the argument that any strike embarked upon labour will worsen the economic situation.

The source also said that some of the associations from the organized private sector have resorted to taking laughable positions because they are afraid that they may be bound to implement any positions that the government would take that will favour workers.

Asked what could be the possible outcome of the NEC meeting on Tuesday,, the source said: “It’s difficult to predict what will be the outcome of NEC because the government is using more time creating division and sabotaging the struggle instead of using the same time and energy to solve the problems at hand.

“They are creating more time using all manners of tactics on those who will attack and oppose the NLC leadership and those who will say the leadership is on its own.

“The issue is that the worker on the street, the worker on the factory is being hurt by the economic hardship and so many of them cannot go to work. You can see the opinion of government, you can see Manufacturers association, NECA talking because they want to continue to pay slave wage.

“Why have the organized private sector on their own not raised the wages of workers? If they are patriotic, must they wait for the public? Even the public sector raising wages is sending shivers into their ear and they are saying NLC should not take action.

“Should they be talking to the NLC on the pages of newspapers or as stakeholders and employers we should have met to look at all these issues together.

“So those are some of the things the government is doing, getting all these organisations to be saying this strike will affect productivity.

“The governors that are telling people to work for only two or three days in a week, the other days they are not working, does it not affect productivity?”

On whether there is any attempt to use some unions or members of the unions to divide the ranks of the NLC, he said, “The government is even talking to some of the Union members.”

Responding to the allegation that the Trade Union Congress, TUC, may have been conquered by the government to work against the NLC, the source which spoke on the conditions of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak on behalf of the Congress said he would not want to use the world conquered because they (TUC) have made their own demands to the government, adding, “we need to wait and find out what the government is doing about the demands.”

He, however said, “Government is using groups to infiltrate the NLC and swell public opinion against the sufferings of workers.”

Fielding questions on whether the NEC meeting would decide on the date for the commencement of the strike after the expiration of the 21 day ultimatum, he said: “The NEC meeting will decide the next action. I don’t think that the issue of whether strike or no strike, the commencement and the pattern it’s going to take because the ultimatum has expired are the only agenda.

“In most instances, it’s when you report progress that the issue of strike or no strike comes up. So the issue of strike is expected to form part of the NEC discussion. It will consider whether there is anything on the table.”

Further asked whether the government has invited the NLC to a meeting after the last Friday expiration of the 21 ultimatum, the source said, ” There is no invitation from government on any meeting.”