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Nationwide strike looms as Labour gears up for June 3

Labour, wage

…lists condition to avert industrial crisis

By Ukpono Ukpong

In a decisive move aimed at safeguarding the rights and interests of Nigerian workers, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have jointly issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government over the recent electricity tariff hike and the delay in implementing the national minimum wage.

According to the communique issued at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NLC and TUC, and made available to the Daily Times on Tuesday, the ultimatum issued is set to expire at the end of May 2024. Thereafter on June 3, the Labour unions will commence the process of declaring an ndustrial action, if their demands are not met.

The two labour centres had convened the emergency meeting in response to the pressing national issues affecting Nigerian workers, including the recent hike in electricity tariff, the ongoing negotiation of a new national minimum wage with the Federal Government and the persisting non-compliance with the 2019 National Minimum wage Act by some state Governments in Nigeria.

According to the NEC, its resolutions underscores the non-negotiable nature of their demands for industrial peace.

The NEC’s decision contained in a communique signed by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo, comes after thorough deliberations on pressing issues affecting Nigerian workers and the masses, particularly the recent illegal hike in electricity tariff and the delay in implementing the national minimum wage.

Expressing vehement condemnation, the NEC reiterated its demand for an immediate reversal of the tariff hike, citing its unjust and burdensome impact on the already-strained economic situation faced by the masses.

They called upon the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the federal government to address this issue before the deadline.

Additionally, the NEC emphasised the urgency of reaching a fair agreement on the new national minimum wage, reflecting the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions.

They stressed the need to protect workers’ interests and welfare during the negotiation process.

“After thorough deliberations and considerations of these current realities as it affects Nigerian workers and masses, the NEC-in-session of both centres reaffirm its demands for an immediate reversal of the tariff hike and the vexatious apartheid categorization into Bands to alleviate the suffering of Nigerian workers and citizens and gives the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the federal government until the last day of May, 2024 to meet these demands.

“The NEC acknowledges the ongoing negotiations between the NLC/TUC, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and the federal government regarding the new national minimum wage. While appreciating the efforts made thus far, the NEC emphasises the urgency of reaching a fair and equitable agreement that reflects the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions to the nation’s development and the current crisis of survival facing Nigerians as a result of government’s policies. The NEC affirms its commitment to ensuring that the interests and welfare of workers are adequately protected in the negotiation process.

“The NEC-in-session, therefore, reiterates the ultimatum issued by the NLC and TUC to the federal government, which expires on the last day of this month. It emphasises the non-negotiable nature of the demands put forth by Nigerian workers and urges the government to prioritise the resolution of these issues in the best interest of industrial peace.

“NEC-in-session further directed all state Councils whose state Governments are yet to fully implement the N30,000 (Thirty-thousand Naira) National Minimum Wage and its consequential adjustments to issue immediately a joint two-week ultimatum to the culpable state Governments to avert industrial action.

“Consequently, the NEC-in-session accordingly reaffirms the NLC and TUC joint ultimatum earlier issued to the Anambra state government by its Anambra state councils. It therefore directed all affiliates and workers in the state council to mobilize their members to ensure a successful action in the event the state government fails to meet the demands of workers by Thursday, the 23rd of May, 2024.”

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In a bid to enforce their demands, the NEC directed state councils to issue a two-week ultimatum to state governments that have not fully implemented the national minimum wage.

This directive aims to avert potential industrial action and ensure compliance with the law.

The NEC’s stance on the ultimatum is firm, emphasising the non-negotiable nature of the demands and urging the government to prioritize resolving these issues in the best interest of industrial peace.

In the event that the government fails to meet the outlined demands within the stipulated time frame, the NEC also authorized the leadership of the NLC and TUC to take appropriate actions, including mobilizing workers for peaceful protests and industrial actions.

Calling for unity and solidarity among affiliate unions, workers, and civil society organisations across Nigeria, the NEC reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to championing the cause of Nigerian workers and ensuring their rights and interests are upheld at all times.

“In the event that the government fails to meet the demands outlined within the stipulated timeframe, the NEC authorizes the leadership of the NLC and TUC to take appropriate actions, including but not limited to the mobilization of workers for peaceful protests and industrial actions, to press home these demands for social justice and workers’ rights.

“NEC, therefore, calls on all affiliate unions and workers, including Civil Society Organisations across Nigeria, to remain united and steadfast in solidarity during this critical period.”

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