The Nigerian federal government has made an earnest appeal to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to reconsider its planned strike, which is scheduled to commence next Wednesday. The government assures the labour movement that it is actively addressing the concerns raised regarding the removal of fuel subsidy.
The plea comes after the NLC issued a 7-day ultimatum to the government, demanding a resolution of what they consider anti-people policies or face industrial action.
Following a Steering Committee meeting on Palliatives, Olu Verheijen, the leader of the government team and Special Adviser to the President on Energy, along with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, pleaded with the NLC to grant the government more time to examine their grievances instead of proceeding with the strike.
The government explained that it has not yet rolled out palliatives, as it is committed to avoiding any mistakes in the process. Verheijen highlighted that the meeting with organized labour was productive and will continue tomorrow.
The NLC, on the other hand, has directed its affiliates and state councils to immediately begin mobilizing workers and other Nigerians, including civil society allies, for a long-lasting strike and mass protests should the government fail to meet their demands.
In a communiqué issued after the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting, the NLC called for the immediate inauguration of the Presidential Steering Committee, as previously agreed. They also demanded the reversal of all anti-poor policies, including the recent hike in PMS price, the release of eight months’ withheld salary of university lecturers and workers, and the increase in VAT.
The NLC expressed deep concern over the crippling economic situation faced by Nigerians, resulting from what they consider to be insensitive policies and actions of the present administration. They condemned the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from N185 to N500 on May 29, 2023, and the subsequent hike to N617 per litre without addressing the consequences on Nigerians.
Reacting to the strike threat, the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) called for immediate government action to avert the strike, acknowledging the hardships caused by the removal of fuel subsidy. NECA encouraged the government to resume talks with the NLC and build consensus to find positive resolutions to the situation.
As the tension between the government and the labour movement escalates, Nigerians await further developments on the looming strike and potential measures to address their concerns.