Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has kept the government in suspense hours to expiration of its 14 days strike notice.
The strike plan, according to the NLC, is to express displeasure over the painful effects of the removal of petrol subsidy by the Federal Government.
Although, the Federal Government, has given N2 billion each as first installment of the total N5 billion to states for purchase of food items and fertilizers for Nigerians as palliatives for the subsidy pain.
The government has also announced other cushioning measures.
But the NLC is not persuaded. It carried out a two-day warning strike, which recorded mixed compliance.
Yesterday, Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong and Minister of State (Employment and Labour) Nkiruka Onyejeocha met with Vice President Kashim Shettima on the proposed strike.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) George Akume also met with the Vice President.
At the end of the meeting, they all expressed optimism that the NLC will shelve the strike “in the nation’s interest”.
Leaders of NLC kept themselves incommunicado in Abuja as reporters made efforts to find out their moves on the strike.
Lalong expressed optimism that the “cordiality and friendly mood” of the engagements between government and the organised Labour so far, is an indication that the strike will not hold.
The Minister, who declined to give a categorical answer on whether the strike will proceed on not, said “as for me I don’t think there is any problem. We’re moving very fine with them, with the Nigerian labour and posture of the President too is towards good welfare for the Labour in Nigeria, so we have no doubt.
“That’ why in many of the meetings we’ve had with them we are not ending up boxing ourselves, we were smiling, all of us, with hope that the best is going to come”, he said.
When asked about the strike, he said “which strike? We’re still… No, don’t worry about it. That’s why I said it’s a friendly engagement we’re having with them. We didn’t have any fear about some of the things”.
When asked if the Federal Government had obtained any assurance from the organised Labour that the planned strike would be shelved, Lalong said “I don’t want to say that, I’m not the NLC President.
Onyejeocha added “there’s nothing to say, we have answered you on exactly what we are here for and so that’s what it is. We’re continuing to discuss with our brothers and sisters and that’s what it is”.
Also Akume expressed optimism that the organised Labour would be reasonable in its actions as a strike in the current state would be in no one’s interest.
Expressing the belief that issues concerning the strike would be addressed amicably, he called on the organized labour to be patient as the government finds solution to their demands.
“The Labour leaders are very patriotic Nigerians and we want to believe correctly that nobody would want to have a strike at this time of our history because it is not in the interest of the workers and it is not in the interest of anybody.
It was learnt yesterday from various state councils of the NLC that there had been no directive to proceed on strike from the National Secretariat.
But Oyo State NLC chair Kayode Martins said the national leadership of the Union has agreed to give the Federal Government till tomorrow (Friday) to address its demands before taking a decision.
He said the national leadership after meeting with other leadership said the time frame is to allow the Federal Government make open its action plans on addressing the request placed before it by the workers union and the affiliates.
On the situation in Oyo State, Comrade Martins said a meeting with leaders from both the NLC and her counterpart, TUC has been scheduled for today.
He said the workers had yet to receive any form of palliatives from the state government despite its promises and continuous reassurances.
He said efforts to reach the state government for the palliative had not yielded any positive results.
He said the workers leadership will not rest on its oars or give up on pursuing the interest of the workers.
He added that the NLC/TUC state Executive Council at the meeting on Thursday (today) will take a stand on the next move.
Osun State Acting NLC chairperson, Mrs Modupe Oyedele said: “We are yet to receive any directive from the national secretariat on the planned strike but we have no choice, if the national secretariat issues a directive, we will comply.”
Plateau NLC chair Comrade Eugene Manji said we have not been communicated to or even received any memo, notifying them about the date or time of the strike.
As far as the chapter is concerned, any time we are informed of any development on the strike , the workers on the Plateau are fully ready to participate.
Edo State NLC chair Comrade Odion Olaye also said no directive had been received.
The NLC had threatened an indefinite “shut down of the economy” starting from today.
But the TUC differs with the NLC on the proposed strike. The TUC, which also did not join the NLC for the two-day warning strike, met with the Labour minister on Monday and agreed to give the government more time to allow the President to return from his mission at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.