…Give Me More Time, Tinubu Begs Organised Labour
Nigeria’s organised labour yesterday issued a fresh seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to order the immediate reversal of the recent hike in fuel price or expect nationwide protest from workers in the country.
This is just as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made an earnest appeal to the organised labour in the country to suspend their industrial actions and allow his administration more time to attend to their demands.
The labour centre also directed all affiliates, including the state councils to begin immediate mobilisation for nation-wide protest in a move to compel the federal government to reverse all anti-people policies. The protest is expected to commence on August 2, 2023 should the federal government fail to meet the organised labour demands. The decision was reached at the end of the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Abuja.
In a communiqué made available to journalists after the meeting, the labour centre noted that it was clear that the federal government was not interested in discussions, having exhausted half of the agreed eight-week time frame for palliatives measures, as it is yet to activate the presidential steering committee to that effect.
In the communiqué signed by NLC national president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, and general secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, the labour centre stressed that the government’s conduct suggested that it does not intend to commit itself to the MoU it signed with NLC and TUC.
Ajaero also called on all civil society organisations and Nigerians to begin mobilisation and take action on their own to save Nigeria. He stated: “The federal government has refused to put in place safeguards to protect Nigerians from the harsh economic situation that its policies have inflicted on the people rather it has decided to insult the sensibilities of Nigerian masses by offering us N8,000 per family and offering themselves N70 billion.
“The government has continued to treat Nigerians as slaves and a conquered people which it treats with impunity without any concern on the consequences… and shown enormous disdain and contempt for Nigerian people and workers having acted and continued to act without regards to the welfare and cries of the citizenry.
“The federal government has continued in an unholy mission of robbing the poor to pay the rich in Nigeria as typified by its continued frustration of the activation of the agreed alternatives to Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and new hike in price of PMS to N617 per litre”.
The CWC-in-session subsequently resolved to give the federal government a seven-day ultimatum within which to meet all its demands and to embark on a nation-wide action beginning Wednesday August 2, 2023 to compel the government to reverse its anti-poor and anti-workers policies.
Though the government had set up a committee to liaise with the organised labour, the outcome did not turn out, as the federal government went ahead with announcement of the now aborted N8,000 palliative without giving room for the committee to deliberate on it.
The president of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade (Dr) Timmy Okon, while speaking with LEADERSHIP expressed disappointment at the move. Okon who is one of the members of the committee blamed the move of government which was like putting the cart before the horse by jettisoning the same committee
Give Me More Time, Tinubu Begs Organised Labour
Meanwhile, in a bid to avert a potential nationwide strike, President Tinubu made yesterday earnest appeal to the organised labour in the country, urging them to suspend their industrial actions and allow his administration more time to attend to their demands.
The plea was conveyed to journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Tajudeen Abass, who led a delegation of House members to meet with the president. As part of their responsibilities, the House of Representatives expressed readiness to intervene in the brewing industrial protest scheduled to begin from Wednesday, August.
The Speaker disclosed that their earlier visit to the president was primarily to update him on the progress made in negotiations with the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD). However, President Tinubu who was still getting acquainted with the issues requested more time from the medical officers who had already commenced their strike the day before. “What he said was that he was just coming on board; we should ask and beg them to please give us a little more time. Most of the things they mentioned, he is completely unaware of them. He is yet to be briefed about all those issues.
“But from what he heard from me, he also advised that we should channel all those issues to his chief of staff for him to look at them one after the other. I believe within the next coming days, some concerted actions will be taken. Yesterday’s visit was primarily to brief Mr President on our engagement with National Residents Doctors Association whom we got wind of were planning to embark on strike. So, we invited them and we persuaded them to withdraw that plan. Sequel to the meetings we had with them, there were a series of conditions that they gave that we felt that we needed to share with Mr President. That is what brought me yesterday, to intimate him on what we have discussed and the agreements so far reached and issues that they have raised that need his attention”, Abass said.
On why the doctors proceeded on strike, the ongoing negotiations notwithstanding, the Speaker said “It’s a work in progress. I’m sure some of the issues that they have raised, if we can be able to meet some of their expectations halfway of which we are on it. We already set up an ad hoc committee chaired by the Majority Leader of the House to look at those issues. I’m sure with one or two interventions in their areas of concern, we will prevail on them to come back to the negotiating table and also accept the withdrawal of that strike”.
Asked what the Representatives would do in the case of the organised Labour’s threat to go embark on nationwide protest, he said the Green Chamber would be intervening like in other past cases. “In the same manner, same way; we will also invite them to come and sit so that we hear their grievances and then we follow the same pattern of engaging and persuading them to give us a little time so that we can be able to meet their expectations”, he said
Explaining the reason for the latest visit, he said, “Since our election, as leaders of the 10th House of Representatives, we didn’t come formally to present them to Mr President. So, today, we requested this audience primarily to bring and introduce them for him to get to know them and for them to get to know him. That’s just what we are here for”. Among those with Abass were the deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu; majority leader, Prof Julius Ihonvbere; minority leader, Kingsley China, and other principal officers of the House.