The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have announced a total nationwide strike set to commence on Tuesday, the 14th of November 2023. This declaration comes after the brutal attack on NLC National President, Joe Ajaero, an incident that has sparked widespread condemnation and demands for justice from the labour community.
The decision to strike, confirmed after a joint emergency National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, is the culmination of a series of events starting with the assault on Ajaero in Imo State.
The labour unions have criticized the actions of the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Barde, suggesting his involvement in the attack, and have called for his replacement. The unions also hold Governor Hope Uzodimma, who is up for re-election, responsible, despite his denial of involvement.
NLC and TUC call for intervention within five days
The NLC and TUC had initially given the Federal Government a five-day ultimatum to meet a six-point demand, which included the replacement of the police commissioner and the arrest and prosecution of the governor’s aides believed to be connected to the attack on Ajaero. With the ultimatum expired and their demands unmet, the labour unions have now escalated their actions to a nationwide strike.
The Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, did reassign Commissioner Barde for the sake of “neutrality” ahead of the upcoming governorship election, but this move has not quelled the labour unions’ resolve.
In a strong display of union power, the labour leaders have directed an immediate shutdown of Imo State, halting flights, fuel supplies, and electricity, with both public and private sector workers called to down tools indefinitely.
The joint communique from the TUC and NLC leadership underscores the severity of the situation, as they express deep concern over the prevalence of violence and the undermining of democratic processes.
The national strike not only represents a protest against the specific incident involving Ajaero but also a broader stand against what the unions perceive as an escalation of impunity and violence in the socioeconomic sphere of Nigeria.
With the NLC and TUC standing firm on their six-point demand and the government’s response still pending, the upcoming NLC strike holds significant implications for the country’s labour landscape. It also sets a precedent for the level of action organized labour is willing to take in response to injustices against its members.
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