The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) issued a warning on Monday, stating that if there is another increase in the price of fuel while the ongoing negotiations are not concluded and palliatives aren’t put in place first, its members will begin a nationwide strike action without giving the Federal Government any official notice.
Comrade Joe Ajaero, president of the NLC, made this statement at the ongoing African Alliance of Trade Unions meeting in Abuja.
Ajaero urged the Federal government to change “those bad economic policies that make our wages next to nothing” in response to the Registrar of Trade Unions’ advice on how labor should behave as they carry out their duties of protecting the interests of workers and, by extension, Nigerians.
“As we’re here now. They’re contemplating increasing the pump price of petroleum products. But the Minister of Labour for some time now, will only go to the Minister of Justice to come up with an injunction to hold the hands of labour not to respond. They have started floating ideas of a likely increase in the price of petroleum products.
“But let me say this. Nigeria workers will not give any strike notice. If we have not addressed the consequences of the last two increases in fuel pump price, and we wake up from asleep to hear that they have tampered with the fuel pump price again.”
Ajaero went on to say; “I want to plead with the government that those bad economic policies that make our wages next to nothing, should be checked. If you check those policies that lead to inflation, and devaluation of the currency, we will be comfortable even where we are. if the naira is at par with the dollar today, we will ask you to leave the minimum wage at 30,000.
“If inflation is checked to zero, we will ask you to leave things the way they are. But inflation is flying, and by the admittance of the National Bureau of Statistics, we have over 133 million Nigerians that are multi-dimensionally poor. I think these are the issues Government should address. If we go for wage increase tomorrow, the inflation that will follow suit will destroy it.”
He also said; “The Nigerian police, the IG is now performing the duties of the Ministry of Labour. The duty of the Ministry of Labour includes addressing the issue of both inter and intra-union disputes. It is not within the purview of the Inspector General of Police to go into that area. And I think there is a need for the Ministry of Labour to educate the police to tell them that they don’t have the right to usurp its functions. If they do that, the Ministry of Labour will go into extinction and there’ll be no basis for the Minister of Labour to remain there.
“We say it is legal and we demand an apology from the IG of police for arresting or even contemplated to arrest the president of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, for whatever reason, on the eve of the election. It is unheard of in the history of this country. And never again should not be entertained. Nigerian police against Nigerian workers, we will not waste time too much in their offices. Let them use the same gun that was bought with the workers’ tax tonight to engage us?
“Go and collect your functions from Ministry of Police and for the Ministry of Justice. Even when there is a dispute intra or inter it is your function to refer such to NIC. As the Nigeria Labour Congress that relates with the Ministry of Labour so much. We are afraid that your work is going into extinction. But we’re here ready to cooperate with you, laugh with you, and fight with you at appropriate times.”