The organised labour will today meet with representatives of the federal government to discuss the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties in respect of palliatives measures for fuel subsidy removal.
The meeting is expected to evaluate the implementation level of the 12-point MoU signed on October 2, 2023, as the 30-day implementation window given by the organised labour comes to an end this week.
Last week, the Labour Centre threatened a fresh strike after accusing the minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, of breaching item 6 of the MoU and the ratified agreement by taking sides with a faction in a move to address the crisis rocking the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
But the minister has since refuted the allegation, describing it as unfounded. Although today’s meeting is at the instance of the chief of staff to the president, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, NLC national president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, told journalists in Abuja yesterday that the Labour Centre will no longer attend any meeting with the federal government where the minister of Labour and Employment will be in attendance.
The NLC also announced plans to shutdown activities in Imo State with a mass protest to demand resolution of the ongoing impasse with the state government. The protest which will begin on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, is to demonstrate their outrage and stop the continuing violation of workers’ rights and privileges. The conflict between the NLC and the Imo State government had escalated recently, with issues related to workers’ welfare, unpaid salaries and vandalism of the NLC state secretariat at the forefront.
According to Ajaero, some of the most infractions committed by the Imo State government against NLC include refusal to implement previous agreements, outstanding salary arrears, unjust declaration of workers as ghost workers, vandalism of the NLC State Secretariat, implementation of discriminatory pay, unsettled gratuity arrears and non-compliance with the National Minimum Wage,
Other issues of concern are intimidation and harassment of trade union leaders, use of violence and thuggery, misappropriation of union dues, declaration of pensioners as ghosts, systematic harassment and intimidation of the workforce, resistance to social dialogue and collective bargaining, and interference with workers’ democratic processes.
He said, “Despite our repeated efforts to engage in constructive dialogue and reach amicable agreements, the Imo State government has become a habitual and serial breaker of these agreements, continuing to trample on the rights of workers in the state. “As a result, we are left with no choice but to embark on mass protests and industrial actions beginning on the 1st day of November, 2023 to demonstrate our outrage and stop the continuing violation of the rights and privileges of workers in the state.
“We want to warn the government of Imo state that we would hold the governor accountable if anything happens to any worker or trade union leader in the course of these lawful protests. All the threats we have received of violence against our persons are noted but we will not be deterred”.
The Labour Centre called on all stakeholders, including civil society organizations, to stand in solidarity with the workers of Imo State in the face of these violations and implores the Imo State Government to honor its obligations and recommit to respecting the rights and privileges of workers.