Workers in several states have joined the strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) which kicked off today, shutting down activities at several government-owned facilities.
The Edo State chapter of the NLC downed tools at government offices in compliance with the nationwide industrial action declared by the national body, reports Channels TV.
At the Civil Service Secretariat in Benin City, the Edo State capital, union leaders, including the state NLC chairman, Mr Odion Olaye, locked out civil servants who had come to work.
The same scenario played out at the State High Court and the Edo State House of Assembly, where the gates were under lock and key.
Some banks in the capital city closed their doors to customers, who were left to do their transactions at the ATM terminals.
In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the NLC, TUC, and other affiliate bodies also joined the ongoing indefinite national industrial action as instructed by their national leadership.
Staff members of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company were stranded at the gate, while the gate was under lock and key.
Commenting on the development of the indefinite industrial action, the state Chairman of the NLC, Hamed Ademola, BENKO, expressed satisfaction over the level of compliance.
In a similar vein, the Katsina State chapters of the NLC and TUC joined the strike action, saying it would continue until the government at all levels woke up to its responsibility.
The level of compliance across the state capital was seen to be widespread, with all public institutions, including the NLC Secretariat, withdrawing their services and all entrances remaining under lock and key.
In private institutions, people were seen going about their normal business with filling stations, among others, fully and properly functioning.
In Rivers State, activities outside the Federal Secretariat in Port Harcourt showed skeletal services appeared to be ongoing, although many workers had yet to arrive at 10:30 am.
There were normal activities at the Nigeria Immigration Service, while other offices, including the Office of the Federal Controller of Works and the Ministry of Works, were completely deserted.
The TUC National President, Festus Osifo, yesterday, addressed journalists in Abuja, directing all its members and affiliates to withdraw their services nationwide from midnight.
The strike comes on the heels of the physical assault NLC National President Joe Ajaero was subjected to in Imo State two weeks ago when he and other NLC members were in the South-East state for a demonstration over “non-payment of salaries and pensions for 44 months and violation of other labour rights”.
The protest was viewed in some circles as an attempt to scuttle the re-election bid of Governor Hope Uzodimma in last Saturday’s governorship election.
Following Ajaero’s ordeal, the organised labour called for a nationwide strike beginning today.
However, the National Industrial Court (NIC) restrained them from embarking on the strike action in the wake of the impasse with the Imo State Government.
In spite of the court order, the unions, in a statement yesterday, directed workers nationwide to withdraw their services at midnight.
“In furtherance to the decision of the Joint National Executive Council (NEC) of NLC and TUC, all workers in Nigeria are hereby directed to withdraw their services effective 12:00 midnight today, 13th November 2023,” the unions said in a joint statement.
“Consequently, all affiliates and state councils of NLC/TUC are directed to issue circulars for maximum compliance and these circulars be made available to the National Secretariats or posted to the NEC and CWC Whatsapp Platforms.”
Partial Compliance In Kaduna
There was partial compliance in Kaduna State today with commercial activities continuing as normal.
At the Kaduna State Secretariat located along the Independence Way in the metropolis, workers were seen at their offices carrying out their official functions.
Some of the civil servants said they were unaware of the NLC strike and had not been given any directive to join in the industrial action.
Some banks along the Yakubu Gowon were also open for service as customers were seen going into the banking hall to transact business.
However, the story was different at the headquarters of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company where officials of the National Union of Electricity Employees locked the main gate and prevented workers and customers from gaining access to the offices.
Reacting to the development, the North-West Zonal Organising Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, Bukat Barde, said the manhandling of the NLC president was an assault on the entire Nigerian workforce that should not be swept under the carpet.
He disclosed that the strike was total and indefinite until the Federal Government yielded to organised labour’s demands.
The Presidency, today criticised the nationwide strike of the NLC and TUC as “unwarranted”, arguing it is an attempt to blackmail the government.
The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, in a statement, expressed dismay that the strike proceeded, despite a restriction order by the National Industrial Court.
“This decision by the NLC and TUC other than being an ego tripping move is clearly unwarranted. It is an attempt to blackmail the government by the leadership of the NLC,” the statement said.
“We are still at a loss as to why the NLC and TUC decided to punish a whole country of over 200million people over a personal matter involving the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, whose error of judgment led to assault on him in Owerri while he was planning to incite the workers in Imo State into a needless strike.”