Labour Refuses to Backdown on Nationwide Industrial Action, Faults President’s Broadcast

Labour Refuses to Backdown on Nationwide Industrial Action, Faults President’s Broadcast

…Police Warns Against Violence Barring any last minute changes, the Nigerian Labour unions would embark on their proposed nationwide industrial action on Wednesday, August 1, but the Inspector General of Police has warned against any form of violence during the proposed protests. Labour was till late night on Tuesday still consulting its affiliates on whether

…Police Warns Against Violence

Barring any last minute changes, the Nigerian Labour unions would embark on their proposed nationwide industrial action on Wednesday, August 1, but the Inspector General of Police has warned against any form of violence during the proposed protests. Labour was till late night on Tuesday still consulting its affiliates on whether to go on with the strike action or abort it.

There are attempts to split the ranks of labour especially in some states while some civil society organisations in the northern part of the country have announced that they would not be part of the protests. But Labour was frantically countering such moves up until last night.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said workers are mobilizing and that the protest would go on as planned. “We have no reasons to call off the planned protest,” Ajaero said. “If we suspend or call it off, you will know. I can tell you that the mobilization is very high,”

In a reaction to rumours that the protest has been called the NLC issued a statement Tuesday night:

We Have Neither Reconsidered Nor Suspend The Nationwide Mass Protest

“We want to inform all Nigerians that we have just risen from a meeting with the federal Government where we sought to get them listen to the demands of the people and workers of Nigeria.

“The outcome of this meeting earlier today has however not changed anything or the course which we have set for ourselves tomorrow as custodians of the interests and desires of Nigerian workers and people.

“Nigerians are advised to ignore the work of fifth columnists who are working hard against the wishes of the people. We urge everyone to gather in our respective states and wherever we may be across the nation to give vent to this collective resolve.

“Once again, the Nationwide Mass Protest will start tomorrow.

Our Demands Are:




Police Warns

Reacting to the proposed industrial action by the NLC in an official statement the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said that although the right to protest is enshrined in the constitution, but should be done in a peaceful way, devoid of violence.

He emphasized that the Police will not tolerate any attempt to sabotage the protest, adding that such will be met with a professional and lawful approach.

NLC Faults President’s Speech

The President’s speech has not been able to douse the rising tension of the impending industrial strike planned by organised labour, as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) took a swipe at the president for making unrealistic promises to the country as palliatives to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal in the country

Labour and Tinubu’s administration have been at odds since the president made an epic ‘fuel subsidy is gone’ declaration at his inauguration, resulting in an arbitrary increase in petrol prices from N185 to N617, as well as skyrocketing food and other commodity prices.

Dissatisfied with the announcement at the time, the NLC and its sister organisation, the Trade Union Congress, issued warnings and threatened strikes. However, their plans were thwarted by an Industrial Court in Abuja, and the federal government met with organised labour to discuss palliatives to mitigate the country’s impact of the subsidy removal.

While organised labour appeared to have reduced its pressure, the government announced that it would distribute N8000 to poor families based on social registers. At the same time, in what appeared to be an antithesis to Nigeria’s situation at the time, there was a report that lawmakers were planning to distribute N7 billion to support their working conditions and furniture supplies.

Like other Nigerians, the labour saw the lawmakers’ decision to share the national treasure in such way as a vexatious development to frustrate the endurance of the country at large. The NLC drew its sword and declared that it would launch a nationwide strike to protest the “inhumane policy” of subsidy removal on Wednesday, August 2, 2023.

On the other hand, President Tinubu urged Nigerians to persevere a little bit longer as he perfects his economic reforms programmes to bring about better results for the nation in his 20-minute broadcast yesterday.

In a speech that appeared to be aimed at averting the planned strike by labour unions, President Tinubu made promises to raise workers’ minimum wages and provide palliatives for the country in various sectors of business and individuals to alleviate the hardships that Nigerians are experiencing.

The president also promised to spend N75 billion to fund 75 enterprises with great potential to kick-start sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity. Each of the 75 manufacturing enterprises will be able to access N1 Billion credit at 9% per annum with a maximum of 60 months repayment for long-term loans and 12 months for working capital”

President Tinubu also stated his intention to support small and medium-sized businesses in the informal sectors with N125 billion and N50 billion grants to nano businesses across all local governments between now to the first quarter of next year

“Ultimately, this programme will further drive financial inclusion by onboarding beneficiaries into the formal banking system. In like manner, we will fund 100,000 MSMEs and start-ups with N75 billion. Under this scheme, each enterprise promoter will be able to get between N500,000 to N1 million at 9% interest per annum and a repayment period of 36 months.By investing N200 billion to support 500,000 hectares of farmland and year-round farming in the nation, the President also pledged to strengthen the agricultural sector.

Despite the promises reeled off, the NLC president, Joe Ajaero was impervious to the president’s speech, instead, he faulted the promises as unrealistic statements which do not commensurate with the current hardship the country is facing at the moment.

Mr. Ajaero, who revealed the position of the labour movement in a statement, criticised the president for remaining silent about the condition of the nation’s refineries, which have been inoperable for decades, and described the president’s speech as not the silver bullet Nigerians were expecting.

“Our review of today’s broadcast by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu leaves us with the impression that the promises and assurances made by President Tinubu is not the silver bullet that Nigerians expected. The speech indeed appears to be out of touch with reality and anomalous with the hardship and suffering that most Nigerians are going through now.

“First, the opening statement by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu conveyed a commitment to a better and productive economy. We expected that the next line of statement would be how the present government plans to resuscitate our public refineries which have been lying comatose for so many years and is the major pain point in the whole subsidy narrative. Unfortunately, the entire speech by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was completely silent on the issue of the repair of our national refineries”, the NLC leader said.

Mr Ajaero also expressed concern about the president’s failure to name and shame the “elites of the “elites” who have looted the country’s treasury under the guise of fuel subsidy, instead lamenting like an ordinary Nigerian.

“It is unacceptable for the President and Commander-in-Chief to lament like ordinary Nigerians about a group that Mr. President routinely referred to in his speech as the “elites of the elites” who have stolen so much from Nigeria that they have become so powerful as to constitute a threat to democratic governance. What Nigerians expected from Mr. President is a firm commitment to bring these economic saboteurs to justice and recover what they have stolen.

The NLC also stated that the government has not cooperated with organised labour to review the national minimum wage, as he stated in his live broadcast, claiming that labour has always been negotiating with empty chairs, as the government has refused to attend all meetings scheduled by the government itself.

He added that despite praising the private sector for supporting their workers in the current hardship conditions in the country, the federal government has failed to live up to what it preaches, indicating that the government does not have a plan to review the minimum wage until 2024, but it was quick to remove the fuel subsidy without preparation.

“Mr. President’s statement on working with Organised Labour to review the national minimum wage is out of sync with what has played out since President Tinubu removed the so-called petrol subsidy. In all the meetings scheduled by the government, Organised Labour has been forced to negotiate with empty chairs on the Federal Government’s side as the Federal Government has not matched its public promises with a firm commitment to negotiate in good faith with labour. As a matter of fact, the sub-committee on wage awards has not been inaugurated and has not met.

“Furthermore, Organised Labour is disturbed that while President Tinubu in his speech lavishly praised the Private Sector for quickly dispensing wage award to their employees, the Federal Government has failed to do the same for public workers in its employment. This is a clear case of failing woefully to live up to the standards it has set for others to meet. It is open knowledge that the review of the national minimum wage is a matter of the law which is expected to happen in 2024. How would Nigerian workers cope with the current reality of hyper inflation and suffering unleashed by the hasty removal of the so-called petrol subsidy till 2024, when the national minimum wage would be reviewed? This is incredible!”

Mr Ajaero, therefore stated that organised labour is committed to its struggle until the government is ready to ameliorate the suffering workers and average Nigerians are going through


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