Legal Nigeria

Tinubu: Labour’s constant strike calls unacceptable

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday objected to incessant strikes and threats of industrial action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Noting the ruptured relations between government and Labour, he faulted the four industrial actions within nine months of the administration.

The President, who reflected on the pattern of acrimony, urged the NLC to pull the break, saying that it is not the only voice of the people.

President Tinubu spoke in Lagos where he inaugurated the first phase of the 37-kilometre Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line.

The landmark project of the Sanwo-Olu Administration is designed to ease intra-city transportation.

After reading his prepared speech, the President who said he wanted to throw a jab, chided the Joe Ajaero-led NLC for regressing into partisan politics.

Noting that political participation is a right, President Tinubu, however, asked the NLC leaders to wait till 2027 to participate in the electoral process.

On Tuesday, NLC organised a two-day nationwide protest to ventilate workers’ grievances over the rising cost of living.

It suspended the action after the first day.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC), led by Festus Usifo, acknowledged that the government had met a substantial part of the 16-point agreement signed between the government and Labour in October, and shunned the protest.

Attempts by the government through Minister of State (Labour and Employment) Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) George Akume to prevent the protest, were rebuffed.

The warning by the Directorate of State Service (DSS) of the likely hijack of the protest was also ignored.

NLC held it in Abuja, Lagos and some state capitals. It was, however, peaceful.

Ajaero slammed the TUC for not joining it to protest, saying that the NLC is ready to act alone.

Many Nigerians, who believe that NLC should exercise patience and opt for dialogue with the government, have criticised the union leaders for harbouring political motives.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said President Tinubu advised the Labour leaders to refrain from disruptive actions.

He urged the union leaders to support the country in its drive for peace if the underlying reason for the strikes is not political.

President Tinubu reminded the NLC that the Labour movement is not the only voice of Nigerians.

He stressed: ‘’Some labour unions should understand that no matter how we cling to our freedom and rights, to call four strikes within the first nine months of a new administration is unacceptable.

‘’If you want to directly participate in the electoral process, wait until 2027.

“If not, maintain the peace. Labour is not the only voice of Nigeria.”

Ajaero does not hide his political leaning.

Speaking in March last year, the Labour leader said the NLC would continue to get involved in politics.

He was quoted as saying: “The NLC will be involved in politics; we are already involved in politics; NLC has a political party: the Labour Party (LP), and LP participated in the recent elections.

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“Nigeria must exist before we practice our unionism; anybody, who emerges as the President of Nigeria will work with us, and the rights and privileges of the workers must be guaranteed.

“That is what we are going to impose on them – even the ones that have emerged as senators or House of Representatives members.

“They must, as a necessity, meet with us and we will give them our programmes.

“That is the whole essence and thinking of LP in the first place; so that their actions, inactions, and utterances will reflect the affairs of the labour movement, and there should be no pretences about it.

“We are not saying that people cannot belong to any party of their choice, but we have a party where whatever we discuss here, we take it there as workers.

“If we want new minimum wage, we take it to the people that represent; all these issues concern the workers, and we should no longer shy away from them.”

Credit: The Nation