The organised labour unions, comprising the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), have declared an indefinite strike effective from October 3, 2023.
TUC President, Festus Osifo declared the strike at a joint press conference also attended by the President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero in Abuja on Tuesday.
Ajaero, who spoke first, carpeted the Federal Government over what he described as lackadaisical stance to address demands raised by the unions since the subsidy removal policy took effect.
He accused the government of deliberate refusal to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue within the ambits of good faith during the 21 days ultimatum and the subsequent successful 2-day nationwide warning strike on the 5th and 6th of September 2023.
According to the NLC President, the National Executive Councils (NEC) of the NLC and TUC in their various meetings deeply analyzed the current situation in the country, taking into cognisance the extensive hardships and deprivation afflicting the citizens across all states of the federation.
He said both NECs unanimously condemned the government’s apparent conscious lethargy and tardiness in handling the consequences of its petrol price hike on Nigerians.
Ajaero also noted that the NLC and the TUC NEC-in-session observed that there is no disagreement between Labour and Government on the existence of massive suffering, impoverishment and hunger in the country as a result of the hike in the price of Petrol which demands an urgent need for remedial action.
He said the government totally abdicated its responsibility and had shown gross unwillingness to act, thereby abandoning Nigerian people and workers to excruciating poverty and affliction.
He went on to accuse the federal government of continuous grandstanding and forestalling all avenues to peaceful dialogue with organized labour on ways to save Nigerians from the huge hunger and suffering experienced across the nation.
“As a result of the unconscionable hike in the price of Petrol (PMS) by the Government, the Government has continued to demonstrate not just an unwillingness to mitigate the massive hardship in the country but also a complete lack of intention to take positive steps and empathy for the multi-dimensionally impoverished citizens of Nigeria.
“The federal Government has therefore not met in any substantial way, the demands of Nigerian workers and peoples as previously canvassed in our mutually agreed roadmap to salvaging the economy and protecting workers and Nigerians from the monumental hardship.
“The grace period given by the two labour centres has expired but trade unions continue to face severe threat from the State via the brutal and suppressive power of the Police and Government.
“The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) continues to be illegally occupied by the Government via the instrumentality of the police who have cloned the leadership of NURTW.
“The Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) continues to be illegally occupied by the Lagos State government in total disregard to the Courts and the statutes.
“That the State has continued to blackmail and sponsor serious campaigns of calumny against trade union leaders in the social media using its buying and coercive powers instead of making efforts to lift the burden on the masses,” the NLC President stated.
When Osifo got hold of the microphone, he said, consequently, the NLC and TUC NEC-in-Session resolved as follows: “to, in the spirit of the Independence Day celebration and to demonstrate our resolve for a truly independent Nigeria to take our destinies in our own hands and rescue our nation
“To embark on an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation beginning on zero hours Tuesday, the 3rd day of October, 2023. To direct all workers in Nigeria to withdraw their services from their respective workplaces commencing from the 3rd of October.
“To direct all affiliates and state councils to immediately start mobilizing accordingly for action to organize street protests and rallies until Government responds positively to our demands.
“We enjoin all patriotic Nigerians to join hands across the nation to assist this government put the people back at the centre of its policies and programmes.”