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UPDATED: We’ll shut down the economy from Oct. 3, says Labour

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has directed all its affiliates and members to shut down the economy next week…

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has directed all its affiliates and members to shut down the economy next week Tuesday, October 3, 2023 over the federal government’s failure to meet all its demands.

The Presidents of both NLC and TUC, Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo, disclosed this at Labour House during a press conference held shortly after emergency National Executive Council meeting.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, had appealed to the organised labour not to paralyse economy of the country with its proposed indefinite strike, saying he had already resolved one of the most critical demands of the Congress.

Lalong, had in an interview with Daily Trust on Monday said, since he was able to deliver on the first promise which was the release of the detained members of executive of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), he would also work and deliver on other demands.

But at the briefing, Ajaero said the trade unions had continued to face severe threat from the state via the brutal and suppressive power of the police and government, adding that the NURTW continues to be illegally occupied by the government through the police, who have cloned the leadership of the union.

“The RTEAN continues to be illegally occupied by the Lagos state government in total disregard to the courts and the statutes. The state within the life of the ultimatum via the police has caused loss of lives and property with untold injuries on Nigerian workers who were on their way to go back to their union’s national Headquarters in Abuja.

“The state has continued to blackmail and sponsor serious campaign of calumny against trade union leaders in the social media using its buying and coercive powers instead of making efforts to lift the burden on the masses,” Ajaero stated.

He also said taking into cognisance the extensive hardships and deprivation afflicting our citizens across all states of the federation, the congress unanimously condemned the apparent conscious lethargy and tardiness in handling the consequences of its petrol price hike on Nigerians.

According to him, the NEC deliberated on the continued refusal of the federal government to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue within the ambit of good faith given the 21 days ultimatum.

The labour leader wondered why the government felt nothing like indefinite strike could happen despite seeing the 2-day nationwide warning strike of the 5th and 6th of September.

He said, “To this end, the NLC and TUC NEC-in-session observed that whereas: there is no disagreement between labour and the government on the existence of massive suffering, impoverishment and hunger in the country as a result of the hike in the price of petrol which demands an urgent need for remedial action.

“The government has totally abdicated this responsibility and has shown gross unwillingness to act abandoning Nigerian people and workers to excruciating poverty and affliction.

“The federal government has continued to grandstand and forestall all avenues to peaceful dialogue with organized labour on ways to save Nigerians from the huge hunger and suffering experienced across the nation as a result of the unconscionable hike in the price of Petrol (PMS) by the Government.

“The government has continued to demonstrate not just an unwillingness to mitigate the massive hardship in the country but also a complete lack of intention to take positive steps and empathy for the multi-dimensionally impoverished citizens of Nigeria.

“The federal government has, therefore not met in any substantial way, the demands of Nigerian workers and people as previously canvassed in our mutually agreed roadmap to salvaging the economy and protecting workers and Nigerians from the monumental hardship the grace period given by the two labour centres having expired.”

Also speaking, the TUC President, Festus Osifo, declared that the organised labour would continue mobilise all its affiliates and members nationwide and embark street protests until their demands were met.

Osifo said, “Consequently, the NLC and TUC NEC-in-Session resolved as follows: To, in the spirit of the Independence Day celebration and to demonstrate our resolve for a truly independent Nigeria to take our destinies in our own hands and rescue our nation.

“To embark on an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation beginning on zero hours Tuesday, the 3rd day of October, 2023.

“To direct all workers in Nigeria to withdraw their services from their respective workplaces commencing from the 3rd of October.

“To direct all affiliates and state councils to immediately start mobilizing accordingly for action to organize street protests and rallies until Government responds positively to our demands.

“To enjoin all patriotic Nigerians to join hands across the nation to assist this government put the people back at the centre of its policies and programmes.”

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