The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have declared a nationwide strike to commence on October 3, 2021, over the federal government’s failure to address their demands.
The labour unions have asked Nigerians to stock up their homes with food and other essentials, as they prepare to withdraw their services from all sectors of the economy.
The labour leaders announced this decision at a joint press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, after an emergency meeting of their National Executive Councils (NECs).
They said they had exhausted all avenues for dialogue with the government, which had shown “gross unwillingness” and “total abdication” of its responsibility to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians caused by its “anti-poor policies”.
Some of the demands put forward by the labour unions include:
- The immediate reversal of the hike in petrol price, which has increased the cost of living and transportation for millions of Nigerians.
- The increase in public school fees, which has denied many children access to quality education.
- The release of the eight months withheld salaries of university teachers and workers, who have been on strike since March 2021 over the non-implementation of their agreement with the government.
- The increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), which has added to the burden of consumers and businesses in a recession-hit economy.
- The provision of Compressed Natural Gas buses, which were promised as an alternative to petrol-powered vehicles.
- The release of modalities for the N70bn for Small and Medium Enterprises, which were supposed to benefit from the government’s stimulus package.
- The resolution of the crisis between the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in Lagos, which has led to violence and disruption of transport services.
The labour leaders said they had given the government a 21-day ultimatum on September 1, 2021, to address their demands, but the government had failed to respond positively. They said they had also embarked on a two-day warning strike on September 5 and 6, 2021, to draw attention to their plight, but the government had ignored their protest.
They said they had no option but to embark on an indefinite strike from October 3, 2021, until their demands were met. They directed all their affiliates and state councils to mobilise their members for industrial action and street protests. They urged Nigerians to support their struggle for a better country.
They said: “We call on all Nigerians to stock up food and other necessities as we prepare for this historic struggle. We appeal to our compatriots not to see this as a labour issue but as a national issue that affects all of us. We are fighting for our collective survival and dignity. We are fighting for a Nigeria that works for all and not for a few.
“The National Executive Councils (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in their various meetings deeply analyzed the current situation in the country, taking into cognisance the extensive hardships and deprivation afflicting our citizens across all states of the federation unanimously condemned the apparent conscious lethargy and tardiness in handling the consequences of its Petrol Price hike on Nigerians.
“The councils deliberated on the continued refusal of the federal Government to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue within the ambits of good faith given the 21 days ultimatum and the subsequent successful 2-Day nationwide warning strike of the 5th and 6th of September and other meetings that were supposed to demonstrate the preparedness of Nigerian workers to push through their decision to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike if their demands were not met.
“The Government has continued to demonstrate not just an unwillingness to mitigate the massive hardship in the country but also a complete lack of intention to take positive steps and empathy for the multi-dimensionally impoverished citizens of Nigeria.
“The federal Government has therefore not met in any substantial way, the demands of Nigerian workers and peoples as previously canvassed in our mutually agreed roadmap to salvaging the economy and protecting workers and Nigerians from the monumental hardship.
“The grace period given by the two labour centres has expired.
“Trade unions continue to face severe threat from the State via the brutal and suppressive power of the Police and Government. The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) continues to be illegally occupied by the Government via the instrumentally of the Police who have cloned the leadership of NURTW. The Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) continues to be illegally occupied by the Lagos state government in total disregard to the Courts and the statutes.
“That the State within the life of the ultimatum via the Police has caused loss of lives and properties with untold injuries on Nigerian workers who were on their way to go back to their Union’s national Headquarters in Abuja.
“That the State has continued to blackmail and sponsor serious campaigns of calumny against trade union leaders in the social media using its buying and coercive powers instead of making efforts to lift the burden on the masses.”
“To, in the spirit of the Independence Day celebration and to demonstrate our resolve for a truly independent Nigeria to take our destinies in our own hands and rescue our nation.
“To embark on an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation beginning on zero hours Tuesday, the 3rd day of October, 2023.
“To direct all workers in Nigeria to withdraw their services from their respective workplaces commencing from the 3rd of October.
“To direct all affiliates and state councils to immediately start mobilising accordingly for action to organise street protests and rallies until the government responds positively to our demands.
“To enjoin all patriotic Nigerians to join hands across the nation to assist this government put the people back at the centre of its policies and programmes.”