Labour never wants strikes, we want right things done, says NLC

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) emphasizes that issuing ultimatums to the government doesn’t imply that the labor unions prefer going on strikes. They clarify that their aim is to ensure that the appropriate actions are taken.

On Thursday, both the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, demanding the fulfillment of the 16-point agreement made with workers since October of last year.

In response to criticism regarding labor’s tendency to issue strike threats, Uchenna Ekwe, the Head of International Relations at the NLC, clarified during an appearance on Channels Television’s The Morning Brief on Friday that ultimatums are only issued when government reminders are not addressed.

“Usually people see when NLC starts putting warning and if you notice the comments, people will say we don’t want a strike, it will disrupt. Balancing all these, Let me make this clear, the NLC is actually never interested in a strike, we don’t want a strike; we want the right things to be done,” Ekwe said.

“Before you see us issue a public ultimatum, there must have been many communications that are not meant public to the government system calling their attention to probably an agreement like in this case.”

He noted that the agreement between Labour and the government was reached in October of the previous year, and despite numerous reminders to the government through communications, little progress has been made.

He expressed frustration that several items from the 16-point agreement have not received any attention and emphasized the unions’ insistence on addressing these issues.

The NLC Head of International Relations also refuted suggestions that Labour is merely posturing and attempting to leverage its influence to quell agitations and protests in the country over hardship. He asserted that there is no incentive for Labour to engage in such behavior as it would not benefit the workers or the Nigerian populace.

Ekwe highlighted that the wage award, a component of the agreement with the government, has only been partially implemented, with many states failing to implement it altogether.

Regarding the agreed-upon palliative measures to alleviate the impact of petrol subsidy removal, which resulted in a rise in the cost of living, he pointed out that only Borno and Kebbi states took significant action in this regard. He expressed regret that other states resorted to distributing meager items like cups of rice as palliatives, which he deemed as inadequate.

In a statement jointly signed by the leaders of the two labor unions, Joe Ajaero and Festus Usifo, on Thursday, organized labor expressed deep concern that despite the passage of time, “the majority of these critical agreements remain unfulfilled or inadequately addressed, demonstrating a clear disregard for the principles of good faith, welfare, and rights of Nigerian workers and citizens.”

Organized labor stated that it is granting the Federal Government a 14-day period, commencing from tomorrow, February 9th, until February 23rd, 2024, to honor its commitments made with the labor unions.