Uncertainty surrounds labour’s planned strike


There were doubts on Monday concerning the possibility of resumption of the suspended strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress to protest hardship caused by the removal of fuel subsidy.

Uba Group

The national leadership of the NLC shunned the last-minute reconciliatory meeting convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, to avert the two-day warning strike already declared by the labour centre.

Only the leadership of the Trade Union Congress, led by its President, Festus Osifo, showed up for the meeting slated for 3 p.m. but which started at exactly 5:32 p.m.

The Federal Government has therefore appealed for a period of two weeks to finalise issues on the demands by labour.

Lalong said this while addressing newsmen at the end of a closed door meeting with the TUC.

He said the meeting was called to avert the proposed nationwide warning strike by the NLC.

Also, the TUC in a communiqué had said the need to embark on strike had not arisen but would allow conversation with the government to address grey areas.

According to Lalong, the government was going to address those issues within the period of two weeks and come back for further discussion.

“Some of the issues we discussed are those that are very urgent. There are some that will require a long span of time. This was the basis of our discussion.

“We agreed that there should be no strike within the two-week period while we are doing our deliberations and working towards realising some of these objectives,” he said.

Also, Osifo said some of the issues requiring urgent attention included implementation of palliatives and wage awards.

He said others are tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers; modalities for N70 billion Small and Medium Enterprises and RTEAN crisis.

“In the palliatives that were rolled out we have not seen anything put in place for federal workers.

“We need a wage award. The palliatives rolled out by the government are not far-reaching. We believe that the government can do much more,” he said.

Osifo also said that the TUC leadership would continue to engage with the Federal Government to ensure that its demands are addressed.

In Ogun State, the TUC Chairman, Akeem Lasisi, disclosed that members of the Council would not be participating in the two-day warning strike called by the NLC, due to ongoing engagement with the Federal Government.

The Chairman of the Union, who made this known while fielding questions from newsmen in Abeokuta, noted that the Federal Government had made efforts to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy on fuel, while in negotiation with the NLC, one of which was the recent palliative releases to states.

Lasisi said Governor Dapo Abiodun had invited the NLC and TUC, immediately after the subsidy removal, and constituted a committee to come up with various interventions that could mitigate the effect of the subsidy removal, an act which he added showed uncommon commitment towards the welfare of workers and residents in the state.


He stated that intervention in the state included the payment of N10,000 palliatives for three months which began in July 2023, hazard allowance for members in the health sector, peculiar allowance for workers, reduction in the number of working days as well as distribution of grains from the Federal Government to the populace.

The Chairman noted that despite the various ongoing interventions, the Union would not relent in engaging the Federal Government to ensure all their demands were met, to further reduce the hardship being experienced by their members and the general public.

He therefore called on members of the union to exercise patience as the union leaders continue to negotiate with the government in the best interest of its members.

However, the banks and other financial institutions union has instructed its members to stay off their duty post on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

By implication, banks across the country are not going to be open to attend to customers during the two days.

This directive was issued by the general secretary of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, Mohammed Sheikh calling its members to stay away from their work place within the period.

According to Sheikh, the decision supports a directive by the NLC, who had earlier announced commencement of a 2-day warning strike on September 5 and 6 that is Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Part of the statement titled, ‘Notice of Two days of withdrawal of service,’ reads: “In line with the communiqué issued after the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on 31 August, 2023 that all affiliates should direct all its members to commence two days withdrawal of service from Tuesday and Wednesday the 5th and 6th September, 2023.

“The directive is imperative to get the attention of the government and warn it of its new found love of meddling in the internal affairs of unions rather than address the punishing economic circumstances we found ourselves in.

“We hereby direct all our organs to comply with the directive by ensuring all our members stay off duty for the two days.”

On August 3, the NLC and TUC embarked on a strike for the same reason, but backed down after a meeting with President Bola Tinubu.

As part of the agreement with the President, the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima announced a decision to provide each state with N5 billion, 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize and fertilisers to cushion the harsh effects of fuel subsidy removal.

While many states have publicly acknowledged receipt of these palliatives and commenced distribution, including N2 billion to each state, the NLC insisted it was not enough.

All subsequent meetings between the NLC and the Federal Government have been deadlocked, hardly yielding any positive fruit.

The back and forth between organized labour and the Federal Government over how to address hardship caused by the removal of subsidy on fuel may have given room for affiliates of the central union and state chapters to embark on different courses of action.