By Victor Ahiuma-Young
AHEAD of its planned nationwide strike expected to commence tomorrow, United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, yesterday, in Lagos, urged Nigerians to stockpile foodstuff and other basic necessities that could last them during the duration of the strike as critical sectors of the economy would be affected by the action.
Members of National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, during May Day match past.
Briefing after a joint meeting of ULC’s National Administrative Committee, NAC, and strike committee, leaders of ULC noted that among critical sectors that would be affected included transportation, petroleum products supplies, power supply and banking and other financial operations.
Addressing journalists on the outcome of meeting, ULC’s President, Mr Joe Ajaero, however, regretted the consequences the planned strike would have on Nigerians, especially the masses, saying it was the belief of the body that these measures would help to “create a nation that is better governed for the benefits of Nigerian workers and Nigerian masses.
“This course of action, though very painful to us at this time, is the only alternative available to us as we have exhausted all known peaceful processes towards an amicable resolution of the dispute.
“We, therefore, call on all genuine patriots to join hands in solidarity with us to urge the Federal Government and state governors to be kind enough to meet the demands of Nigerian workers and masses.”
It will recalled that the body had earlier issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government as a result of the decision of the Central Working Committee, CWC, meeting of the congress on August 22, which expired September 8, 2017.
He lamented that the Federal Government having responded through the Federal ministry of Labour through a letter with contents that largely failed to adequately address the critical issues raised in ULC’s demands, the appropriate organ of the congress, having deliberated on the letter considered it grossly inadequate in assuaging the fears which drove the decision of the CWC to issue the ultimatum.
He explained that in lieu of this rejection, “CWC ordered an immediate issuance of a 7 – day final strike notice to the federal Government which has already been done and which will expire on Friday, the 15th Day of September. We hope that the federal Government understands the goodwill contained in this 7 days final notice and seizes the opportunity to meet the demands as made on them. In the event of federal Government’s refusal to accommodate these demands we shall be compelled to embark on the proposed strike without further warnings
“ULC urges all Nigerians to therefore take precaution and stock up on basic necessities as the strike will be very effective as we hope to cripple all modes of transportation within the nation; total black out nation-wide; cut-off petroleum products supplies; disrupt banking operations which will make life a bit more difficult for Nigerians. We regret these consequences on all of us but we hope that these measures will help us create a nation that is better governed for the benefits of Nigerian workers and Nigerian masses.”
It will be recalled that the group had earlier demanded “the Federal Government bans the stationing of the Army and Police in our workplaces and factory premises. This will stop employers who are now colluding with the Army and other security agencies from setting up garrisons in our factories for the purposes of intimidating and harassing workers in order to deny them their rights and privileges. The Army and the Police should immediately withdraw their garrisons in the different workplaces where they are currently stationed;
The Government should demand that the Federal Ministry of Labour sets up a task force immediately to carry out factory inspections as most of our factories are death traps; An immediate review of the Privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to save Nigerians the agony of suffering under the suffocating darkness which the GENCOs and DISCOs have foisted on the nation.;
The federal government should immediately prevail on AMCON and Barrister Nwaobike (SAN); the receiver manager of Delta Steel Company OvwianAladja who short-paid workers by 75% to quickly rectify it and repay the deficit; The immediate payment of all the arrears of salaries owed Nigerian workers at all levels of Government without exception; The federal Government honours its 2009 agreement with University Lecturers under the umbrella of ASUU quickly and commence negotiations with them on new issues so that our universities will re-open.
The roads leading to all the Petroleum refineries and Depots nation-wide be repaired by the Government to avoid the present carnage of lives, wastage of products and properties on these roads; That the proposed Bill at the National Assembly seeking to control free speech couched under the guise of the Bill against hate speech but has the real intention of protecting the ruling elite from being held accountable by the citizenry. We therefore demand the discontinuance of that obnoxious Bill by whoever sponsored it;
“The withholding of registration certificate of the ULC be stopped and the certificate released forthwith so that the nation’s Industrial Relations clime will be made more inclusive and robust; The immediate inclusion of all representatives of labour in the various committees, Agencies and Directorates of Government and not singling out just one centre for these purposes negating the tenets of the nation’s Laws. Any of such appointments that have been done contrary to this, we demand an immediate reversal; The immediate inauguration of the national minimum wage negotiating committee in line with the above so that it can commence sitting instantly.”