The organised labour on Monday said it would not declare nationwide strike and street protests to press home demands for a reversal of recent fuel hike because the organisation is not a “one-man show”, adding that “strike is the last option”.
Leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) at a joint press briefing at Labour House in Abuja, maintained that they would exhaust all available options to ensure ongoing issues were resolved before the option of strike would be considered.
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Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, while fielding questions from journalists, noted that labour could not on its own declare nationwide strike without engaging all its members and following due process.
He insisted that the leadership of labour never betrayed the masses as being speculated in various quarters, saying the proposed September 28 nationwide strike was suspended following certain agreements between the government and the labour movement.
Ajaero said, “The issue of whether we are going on strike immediately or not, I don’t think we operate that way in the labour movement. Our strike was suspended based on certain understandings and our understanding was still violated. That was why we raised that alarm yesterday (Sunday) which led to the walkout.
“We can’t come in here to announce a strike or the next strategies as if it was just a one-man organisation.
“Part of what we are doing in terms of engagement is to reach out and if every other means fail, strike is usually the last option by any union. We don’t just, at any slightest provocation start declaring strike. I think that is not what is on the table now but there are certain disagreements which we are trying to address.”
The labour leader said the organisation would work towards regaining the confidence Nigerians had reposed in its leadership.
According to him, “On whether Nigerians have lost faith on us, we didn’t buy it with money and we won’t equally buy back their confidence with money.
“Even the last agreement, there seems to be government’s interpretation of it; either the two parties, one of them seems not to understand the contents of the letters during the last agreement.”
Speaking earlier, Comrade Nasir Idris, also Deputy President of the NLC, described the recent government’s move as “pain-inducing and life-crippling increase in pump price”, saying based on the last time the union signed the Memorandum of Understanding, government had no license to fix price of fuel.
Idris, who assured Nigerians that the union had not lost its focus nor resolved to betray its members and the masses, noted that government’s conduct was in gross violation of fundamental terms of its agreement and in bad faith calculated to frustrate the process of an amiable resolution.
He said, “Indeed, the letter and spirit of the terms and conditions of the agreement presuppose that contemplation of an increase or an increase would constitute a breach of the dialogue process. What we reasonably expected was that the government would channel its creative energies to deepening stimulus to the appropriate sectors of the economy to kick start growth.”