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NLC/TUC: Banks, businesses open as Presidency, aviation workers, CONUA kick against workers’ strike

Photo Collage of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and NLC Logo

*Nigerian banks’ branches and other businesses opened for operations Tuesday, as the Federal Government frowns on the rationale for the Organised Labour’s ‘needless strike over a personal matter involving Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, while planning to incite the workers’ against the authorities in Owerri, Imo State capital, declaring the industrial action is not in national interest

*Why CONUA cannot be part of the strike -National President

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to Labour leaders’ earlier call for a nationwide industrial action with effect from midnight Monday, November 13, 2023, the Nigerian Presidency has disagreed with the Organised Labour, as it stated that the Federal Government noticed with dismay the decision by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to call out workers to commence a strike from midnight Monday.

Mr. Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser (SA) to the President on Information and Strategy, in a statement issued Monday night, said the Labour yet threatened to activate the strike option in spite of a recent pending restraining order issued by Justice Benedict Backwash Kanyip of the National Industrial Court.

Recall the NLC and TUC Monday had directed their members and affiliates to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Labour unions had accused the Federal Government of failing to address the issues affecting workers, such as the National Minimum Wage, insecurity, corruption and poor governance, among others.

Both unions equally made certain demands, which the government allegedly failed to address, following the recent crisis in Imo State that resulted in the purported brutalisation of Ajaero, and other members of the Labour unions in the South-Eastern state.

Onanuga, however, in the statement, said: “We notice with dismay the decision by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress to call out workers to commence a strike from midnight, despite a restraining order issued last week by Justice Benedict Backwash Kanyip of the National Industrial Court.

“This decision by the NLC and TUC other than being an ego-tripping move is clearly unwarranted.”

The Presidential Information and Strategy aide also contended that the move by the Labour “is an attempt to blackmail the government by the leadership of the NLC.”

He further noted: “We are still at a loss as to why the NLC and TUC decided to punish a whole country of over 200 million 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.

The statement said: “While the Federal Government does not condone any form of violence and assault on any citizen of Nigeria regardless of his or her social and economic status, it is on record that the Inspector-General of Police has ordered investigation into what happened to Mr. Ajaero while the Commissioner of Police in Imo State under whose watch the incident happened has been transferred out of the state.”

Nationwide industrial action illegal, irresponsible, an abuse of privilege: Onanuga

The Federal Government noted that urging the workers to embark a national strike over a personal issue of a Labour leader despite a clear court order against any industrial action “amounts to an abuse of privilege.”

The Presidency stated: “Power at any level should never be used to settle personal scores.

“Rather, it should be used to promote collective progress and advance national interest.

“Our national economy and social activities should not suffer because of the personal interest of any labour leader.”

Onanuga as well said: “This flagrant disobedience to court order and lack of respect for the Judiciary should not be what the Organised Labour would champion.

“The Labour movement has always been a champion of rule of law and respect for the judiciary.

“It is a sad irony that the current Labour leaders have shown disdain and utter disregard for court order.”

The statement stressed: “We reiterate that this strike is illegal, immoral, unjustifiable and irresponsible.

“What the strike notice issued Monday night after official hours suggests is it’s designed for a sinister and hidden agenda to cause undue hardship and cause civil disturbance in our country. This is unacceptable.”

Banks, businesses, organisations open for business in Lagos

ConsumerConnect reports that several bank branches, business premises, and organisations open for business Tuesday, November 14, despite the earlier call on workers to embark on an indefinite strike nationwide by NLC and TUC.

Checks Tuesday at some branches of the First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Limited, Access Bank, Zenith Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc in the Ikeja area of Lagos State revealed that banks’ staff were on duty as usual, just as customers thronged the bank branches to conduct their financial transactions without any hitch.

A female senior staff of the FBN Limited who solicited anonymity because she was not authorised to comment on the development wondered why the Organised Labour should embark on strike at this time.

It does not make sense to embark on strike just because of an issue involving a man in Imo State. It is personal issue at that.”

CONUA dissociates from Labour leaders’ industrial action

Meanwhile, the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), a breakaway faction of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has dissociated itself from the ongoing strike called by the Organised Labour in the West African country.

Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, National President of CONUA, in a statement issued Tuesday, disclosed that at the time of putting together the statement, the TUC whom CONUA submitted affiliation request had not communicated such a position to begin a strike to the academic union.

Sunmonu stated: “Distinguished comrades should, therefore, note that CONUA cannot be part of the strike that is not communicated to it. In addition, the affiliation process with the TUC has not been officially established,” Sunmonu added.

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