The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike starting from November 14, 2023.
The strike is a protest against the government’s alleged violations of workers’ rights, such as the assault on NLC President Comrade Joe Ajaero, the non-payment of salaries and pensions, the discriminatory salary practices, and the non-implementation of the national minimum wage.
The strike has been met with partial compliance by various sectors of the economy, with some unions joining the action and others opting out.
The strike has also been challenged by the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation, who filed an ex-parte application seeking to restrain the unions from proceeding with the planned strike. However, the court order was defied by about 19 unions, who expressed solidarity with the NLC and TUC.
The following is a brief overview of how some of the key sectors are affected by the ongoing strike:
- Maritime: The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has fully complied with the strike, resulting in a complete shutdown of all commercial activities at the Apapa, Tincan Island, and other ports in Lagos. Licensed customs agents and other port users were denied access to the ports on Tuesday. The MWUN said it was joining the strike to demand justice for the NLC President and other workers’ grievances.
- Aviation: The aviation industry has opted out of the strike, citing a lack of preparations as the main reason. Operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja continued without disruption, with no reported flight cancellations or delays. The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) said they were not ready to join the strike, as they had not received any directive from their national bodies.
- Education: The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) have joined the strike, paralyzing academic activities in most public universities and polytechnics across the country. The unions said they were supporting the strike to demand the implementation of the agreements reached with the government on the funding of education, the payment of earned allowances, and the resolution of other pending issues. The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have also joined the strike, affecting the administrative and technical services in the institutions.
- Health: The health sector has witnessed a partial compliance with the strike, as some health workers have joined the action, while others have continued to render services. The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have declared their support for the strike, calling on their members to withdraw their services from all public health facilities. The unions said they were joining the strike to demand the payment of their salary arrears, the adjustment of their salary structure, and the implementation of the COVID-19 hazard allowance. However, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have dissociated themselves from the strike, saying they were not consulted by the NLC and TUC. The associations said they would continue to attend to patients, as they considered the strike to be ill-timed and insensitive to the health needs of Nigerians.
The strike has also affected other sectors, such as telecommunications, local government, judiciary, banking, electricity, parliamentary staff, and railway workers, who have either joined or opted out of the strike, depending on their level of preparedness and affiliation with the NLC and TUC.
The strike has raised concerns about the potential implications for the country’s economy, security, and social welfare, as well as the government’s response to the workers’ demands. The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has warned that the strike could have a negative impact on the economic stability and recovery of the nation, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The OPSN has urged the NLC and TUC to reconsider their action and engage in dialogue with the government to resolve the issues amicably.