Nationwide Strike Looms as Labour Unions Flex Muscles

Labour Unrest Grows in Nigeria with Imminent Shutdown in Imo and Threat of National Action

In a significant escalation of labour unrest, Nigeria’s organised labour, consisting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has declared a nationwide strike set to commence on November 14, 2023. This announcement follows a series of events that have heightened tensions between labour unions and government authorities, particularly in Imo State.

The decision for the strike was reached after an extraordinary National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, where union leaders expressed their grievances over the treatment of workers and the alleged assault on NLC President Joe Ajaero. The unions have accused the Imo State Government of perpetrating violence against workers and failing to address their demands, which include the payment of outstanding salaries and the implementation of the N30,000 national minimum wage.

The labour unions have also called for the redeployment of the commissioner of police in Imo State and the arrest and prosecution of the government aide allegedly involved in the attack on Ajaero. The NLC’s Head of Information, Benson Upah, disclosed that Ajaero was arrested ahead of a state-wide protest, a claim that the police have denied, stating that Ajaero was taken into protective custody.

The situation in Imo State has led to a complete shutdown, with the unions directing all workers to comply with the strike action. This includes halting all flights into and out of the state, stopping fuel supplies, and cutting off electricity as applicable. The unions have outlined a litany of grievances, such as unpaid salaries, the branding of workers as ghost employees, and the non-compliance with the minimum wage act.

The labour leaders have made it clear that if their demands are not met, workers across the federation will join in withdrawing their services. The NLC and TUC have mandated all state councils and affiliates to ensure full compliance with the NEC’s decision.

The unfolding labour dispute has caught the attention of prominent figures, including presidential candidate Peter Obi and human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), who have condemned the attack on the labour leader. The potential nationwide strike threatens to bring significant sectors of the economy to a halt, underscoring the critical nature of the issues at hand and the urgent need for dialogue and resolution.

As the deadline approaches, the nation watches with bated breath, hoping for a resolution that can avert a full-scale industrial action that could have far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s socio-economic stability.

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