There is a growing apprehension in the organised private sector that any strike action by labour could take a negative toll on businesses and may throw the economy into a recession. The OPS therefore wants government to do all within its powers to avert a strike action. Talks between the Federal government and the NLC
There is a growing apprehension in the organised private sector that any strike action by labour could take a negative toll on businesses and may throw the economy into a recession. The OPS therefore wants government to do all within its powers to avert a strike action. Talks between the Federal government and the NLC was deadlocked on Tuesday as no agreement was reached.
The uncertainty in the air has stirred questions among stakeholders and members of the public with concerns that an amicable solution be found to the issues raised by the NLC. Recently, organised labour went on a 2-day warning strike in protest against the excruciating suffering and hardship that the Nigerian people are experiencing as a result of the removal of the fuel subsidy and the high cost of goods throughout the nation. The two-day industrial action was also used to call on the government to review the minimum wage for the workers according to market realities in the country.
But the warning strike was not 100 percent successful as some of the affiliates of the NLC did not participate. For instance, some banks were seen opening in major commercial hubs of the country, while transportation was not affected as Nigerians engaged in their daily business activities without let or hindrance. With the event, many opined that the strike might not really serve its intended purpose, raising the fear that proposed indefinite industrial action might also take the form.
Plans On Ground to Make the Indefinite Strike Effective
While there are doubts on the whether the organised labour would be able to swing the hand of the government if the outcome of the negotiation is nagative or not, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Lagos Chapter Mr Gbenga Ekundayo told NDR that the pressure groups are intentional about the strike action should the negotiation with the federal government hit a wall.
Speaking confidently on the consensus of the labour unions, Mr Ekudayo maintained that the unions are ready to enagage both the private and public sectors to join the strike action. “We are all following the turn of events, and we do not want to preempt the meeting, after that meeting we are going to review what the instructions that come for us. The National body will call the representatives where all the states leaders and the national leaders will be present. It is in view of our discussion that will determine what will happen.
“Naturally one would expect that the government will be honest and they will show us what the plan is to ameliorate the current hardship and how the palliatives will go around and will ensure that it gets to the pocket of individuals. Once those are done, there won’t be strike action. However, if the contrary now happens, you can be sure that both the private and the public sectors will be called out, and once the text is sent on that route of total strike action, every threshold will fold whether private or public.
While NDR could not reach the Head of information of the Nigeria Labour Congress Abuja, Benson Ukpa, through several phone calls which were not connected, the chairperson of the congress in Lagos state Sessi Agnes Funmi told NDR that fingers are crossed on the outcome meeting before swinging into action. “I don’t want to speak out of context since the meeting is ongoing, but we are waiting for whatever comes out of the meeting.
The Effects on Organised Private Sector
The proposed nationwide industrial action has little or nothing to do with the private sector but they may be forced to bear the brunt. Speaking to NDR, Mr Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), stated that while the private sector could not be said to join in the proposed indefinite strike action, but the private sector has found ways to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal on their employees, adding that the strike action is a disagreement between the government and the labour union.
Mr Oyerinde also added that disruption of activities for the industrial action can also kill the private businesses to the point of not being able to pay their employees. “The issue the labour union have the is with the government, it is the government that has breached the agreement not the private sector but the private sector is not going to suffer the double jeopardy. And the thing is the that private sector has done as much as it could within the context of its own limitation we have supported employees and reviewed their allowances, some have reviewed salaries some came up with working from home arrangement and other different means so that be able to survive and to improve well far and to reduce the high cost of living.
“Now if strike happens, for an employer that borrowed money in the bank the interest rate continue to run interest rate is not suspended during those periods. The activities to pay government tax will not be suspended during those periods. Now it is also expected the private owners pay salaries during that period of disruption who is going to bear the losses.
“We have spoken to our members that they should speak with their employees, whatever will compromise our ability to pay salaries they should not do it because there is going to be consequences if anything happens. If government cannot run because of the disagreement we have with the third party it has the potential to destroy the business, and we will not agree”, he said.