September 28, 2023

NEC appeals to Labour to suspend planned strike, urges patience

Climate Change


—Urges FG, Labour to continue negotiations at states level

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The National Economic Council, NEC, presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima, on Thursday ,appealed to the organized Labour to put on hold the proposed indefinite nationwide strike from Tuesday, October 3, 2023.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the NEC meeting at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, said Council asked Labour leaders to resume negotiations at the states’ level.

Recall that the two labour centers, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, had on Tuesday, directed their affiliate unions to commence the nationwide industrial action from October 3, saying it would be a total shut down of the system, until government takes steps to attend to their demands.

The Organised labour accused the federal government of refusing to meaningfully engage and reach agreements with organised Labour on critical issues of the consequences of the unfortunate hike in price of petrol occasioned by subsidy removal which has unleashed massive suffering on Nigeria workers and masses.

The directive to embark on indefinite strike was arrived by the various NEC of the two labour centers after the expiration of a two-day warming strike on September 5 and 6 and that of the 21 day ultimatum that ended last weekend without government attending to the workers demands on provision of palliatives to cushion the effect of hardship.

However, briefing journalists on resolution of NEC on the impending indefinite strike, Mutfwang said Council was of the opinion that continuing on the path of dialogue would be the best option for the economy, especially at the states’ level.

“Council noted the notice by the national leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress to proceed on an indefinite strike from October 3, 2023. The Council noted further the implication of this strike for the economy and the nation and thus urged members to continue to engage with the leadership of their respective states and to appeal to them to shelve the action and continue on the path of dialogue with the federal government. This is the appeal of Council”, the governor said.

Explaining the grounds for NEC’s appeal further, Mutfwang described the situation of most of the states when the various governors took off on May 29, noting that many of they were just coming out of prolonged industrial strikes, adding that enforcing a new strike at this time would further damage the economy.

He, however, appealed for more time for government to work on addressing the concerns of Labour, even as he noted that there are feelers indicating that leadership at every level genuinely wants the issues raised by the Labour addressed once and for all.

“NEC actually expressed genuine concern on the situation in the country and appreciates the concern by Labour to have those issues addressed. That is why NEC is appealing for patience, appealing for time to be able to address the concerns of Labour. We also believe that Mr. President will be addressing the nation first of October and some of the concerns of Labour will be appropriately addressed in the President’s speech.

“It is therefore important that… it’s a federation, so whatever happens Labour is represented in all the 36 states and the FCT and NEC is appealing that discussions should continue at the state levels because there will be peculiarities as to the issues to be addressed concerning the demands of Labour, therefore dialogue is the way to go.

“The nation is at a very critical moment at this time, some of the states, when they took over on May 29, the workers were on strike, some of those issues have just been resolved for the workers to return to work. To ask them to go back immediately, it’s going to further damage the economy.

“Therefore NEC, while expressing genuine concern about the situation in the country, appeals for calm and patience and I want to believe that the leadership across the nation at this point in time wants to truly address the issues that concern Labour and the general populace and move the country forward”, he said.