By Uche Amunike
The much announced Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) indefinite strike, which is trying to be averted, by holding a meeting between the union and the Federal government, seems to be impending, as it has ended in a deadlock, without any demands of the labor union, met.
Recall that the NLC demanded that the federal government should grant a 200% wage award to workers, as a means to cushion the effect of the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products.
After the meeting between the leadership of the Trade Union Congress and the federal government at the Ministry of Labor and Employment in Abuja, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, noted that the talks at the meeting were meaningful, however, there was no agreement whatsoever.
Speaking, on the outcome of their meeting, the NLC President stated: ‘You can see that there was no agreement on any issue, there is no CNG anywhere and refineries are not working neither has anything been done on the issue of wage award and cash transfers or the ASUU issues. However, we believe that between now and next few days when the ultimatum will expire that something will happen.’
He explained that Congress gave an ultimatum to the federal government, so if there was no recorded progress before the expiration, the NLC indefinite strike would kick off on Friday.
‘You can see that there was no agreement on any issue, there is no CNG anywhere and refineries are not working neither has anything been done on the issue of wage award and cash transfers or the ASUU issues. However, we believe that between now and next few days when the ultimatum will expire that something will happen.’
He further stated: ‘We had meaningful discussion on issues relating to our demands. We equally discussed frankly on issues bordering on the coup plotted and executed by the Nigerian Police against the NURTW which had led to the sideling of the democratically elected leadership of the union.’
‘This is one sore area that the Nigerian trade union is not ready to compromise. Coup must be condemned whether it is in Niger, whether it’s in Congo, whether it’s in Mali or whether it’s in the trade union movement in Nigeria.’
When he was asked on the specific issues that were deliberated at the meeting, Ajaero explained: ‘In the ultimatum we gave and in the NEC resolution, the issue of NURTW was clearly stated and it was at the time the issue has not degenerated the way it is now. That was why we had to bring it along with other issues.’
Before the meeting entered its closed door session, Ajaero explained in his opening remarks that the congress was not happy that the government invited them to a meeting while the national headquarters of its key affiliate, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), was still under police occupation and its leaders clamped in detention, adding that he hoped that the meeting would be fruitful.
He reiterated that if there was no progress made based on the ultimatum issued by the Congress before the expiration, the strike will definitely start on Friday.