14 September 2017

Nigeria: Seeking Relevance, New Labour Union Threatens to Shut Down Country On Friday

The United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC), a new central labour organisation launched earlier this year, Wednesday, issued a definitive warning to the federal government of its intention to shut down the nation's economy, starting from Friday, September 15, while advising Nigerians to "take precautions and stock up on basic necessities as the strike will be very effective."

The ULC, led by Joe Ajearo, said it would cripple all modes of transportation within the nation, cause total black out nationwide, cut off petroleum products supplies and disrupt banking operations.

An industry analyst who spoke with THISDAY said: "These people are very serious; I'm afraid that if the federal government does not engage them on their demands, they will make life very difficult for Nigerians."

The imminent strike comes after the ULC issued a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government last month, a warning which expired on September 8, 2017.

In a communiqué released by the National Administrative Committee (NAC) of the ULC, after its emergency joint meeting with members of the ULC Strike Committee in Yaba yesterday, the Congress said the federal government had largely failed to adequately address the critical issues raised in "our demands."

The ULC said it regrets the difficult consequences of the imminent strike on all Nigerians but hopes "that these measures will help us create a nation that is better governed for the benefits of Nigerian workers and Nigerian masses. This course of action though very painful to us at this time is the only alternative available to us as we have exhausted all known peaceful processes towards an amicable resolution of the dispute. We therefore call on all genuine patriots to join hands in solidarity with us to urge the federal government and state Governors to be kind enough to meet the demands of Nigerian workers and masses."

One of these demands include that the federal government bans the stationing of the army and police in workplaces and factory premises.

"This will stop employers who are now colluding with the army and other security agencies from setting up garrisons in our factories for the purposes of intimidating and harassing workers in order to deny them their rights and privileges," the ULC said in the communiqué, which was signed by Ajaero.

"The army and the police should immediately withdraw their garrisons in the different workplaces where they are currently stationed."

Another demand concerns the immediate review of the Privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) "to save Nigerians the agony of suffering under the suffocating darkness which the GENCOs and DISCOs have foisted on the nation."

The ULC also wants the immediate payment of all the arrears of salaries owed Nigerian workers at all levels of government without exception and desires that the federal government honours its 2009 agreement with university lecturers under the umbrella of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) quickly and commence negotiations with them on new issues so that "our universities will re-open."

Other demands, among others, include the repair of roads leading to all the petroleum refineries and depots nationwide, the discontinuance of the proposed bill against hate speech currently at the National Assembly and the immediate inauguration of the national minimum wage negotiating committee.


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