The leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have directed their members and affiliates in Imo State to immediately embark on an indefinite strike.
This is coming a few days to the governorship poll scheduled for November 11 in the state.
The two unions jointly made this public in a communique released after their emergency national executive meeting held in Imo State on Tuesday.
According to the communique, one of the grounds for the strike is the state government’s alleged involvement in the assault against Joe Ajaero, the NLC president, in Owerri on November 1. The labour unions also alleged that Governor Hope Uzodinma, the state governor, failed to implement labour-related agreements his administration signed with workers in 2021.
The groups accused the Imo State Government of refusing to pay the national minimum wage to state workers while labelling some 21,000 people as ghost workers and pensioners.
The two labour organisations threatened to make it a national strike if their demands were not met by November 14.
COMMUNIQUE AT THE END OF THE JOINT NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) MEETING OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC) & TRADE UNION CONGRESS OF NIGERIA (TUC) HELD ON TUESDAY, THE 7TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2023
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) joint National Executive Council (NEC) convened to conduct a comprehensive review of the progress made in executing its directive to initiate an industrial action in Imo state. This decision was prompted by a series of infractions and encroachments on the rights of workers within the state.
During the meeting, the council deliberated on the distressing incident involving the abduction and assault of the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero. Additionally, the council addressed the appalling acts of violence and bloodshed inflicted upon him and fellow workers, who had assembled at the NLC Imo State Secretariat in compliance with the directive on Imo state. These acts were perpetrated by the Imo state Government, acting under the guidance of the Governor and in collaboration with the Nigeria Police.
The Joint NEC-in-session unanimously condemned in very strong terms the brutal and beastly actions of Hope Uzodimma, his goons and the Nigeria Police.
To this end, the joint NLC/TUC NEC-in-session observed that whereas:
1. the decision to embark on an industrial action in Imo state was purely in keeping with its earlier resolution; the Imo state Government under Hope Uzodimma heartlessly continues in its abuse of the rights and privileges of workers in the state viz:
Refusal to Implement Previous Agreements: The Government has repeatedly reneged on agreements, most notably the accord reached on January 9th, 2021, between the Government and Organised Labour.
Outstanding Salary Arrears: Shockingly, some workers have been subjected to a staggering 20 months of unpaid salaries under the unfounded label of ‘ghost workers’.
Unjust Declaration of Workers as Ghost Workers: Approximately 11,000 hardworking individuals have been unjustly branded as ghost workers, their salaries diverted even while they diligently carried out their duties.
Vandalisation of NLC State Secretariat: The wanton destruction of the NLC State Secretariat is a blatant attack on the rights of workers and a violation of the sanctity of their representative body.
Implementation of Discriminatory Pay: The introduction of discriminatory pay practices and the imposition of apartheid-like policies in determining monthly payments is an affront to fair labor practices.
Unsettled Gratuity Arrears: The Government has failed to address the 8-year backlog of gratuity owed to retirees, showing a grave disregard for the rights of those who have dedicated their careers in service.
Non-compliance with National Minimum Wage: The Government has persistently shirked its duty to properly implement the N30,000 National Minimum Wage, a critical safeguard for the economic well-being of workers.
Intimidation and Harassment of Trade Union Leaders: The Government’s witch-hunt against trade union leaders through various guises constitutes an alarming assault on the right to represent and advocate the rights of workers.
Use of Violence and Thuggery: The continued deployment of thugs and violence against workers and their leaders is an unacceptable practice that undermines the democratic rights of workers.
Misappropriation of Union Dues: The impoundment and illegal diversion of union dues, funds rightfully belonging to the unions, is a gross violation of the rights of workers to manage their collective resources.
Declaration of Pensioners as Ghosts: Approximately 10,000 pensioners have been wrongly labeled as ghost pensioners, resulting in over 22 months of unpaid pensions, tragically leading to the loss of lives.
Systematic Harassment and Intimidation of Workforce: The entire workforce is constantly subjected to threats of violence and sack, creating an environment of fear and uncertainty.
Resistance to Social Dialogue and Collective Bargaining: The Government’s persistent resistance to the use of the instruments of social dialogue and collective bargaining is an affront to the principles of fair labor practices.
Interference with Workers’ Democratic Processes: The violent interference and disruption of the Imo State Delegates’ Conference demonstrates a blatant attempt to impose favored candidates on the workers, undermining their democratic rights.
2. workers had gathered to peacefully protest these infractions by the Governor at the Secretariat of the NLC in Imo state as guaranteed by our extant labour laws and the Constitution;
3. the Police, supported a group of Imo state Governor’s thugs led by its SA on Special Duties, invaded the premises of the Imo NLC Secretariat and unleashed mayhem on the few workers who had gathered, inflicting injuries and stealing and damaging personal effects including various sums;
4. the President of the NLC was subsequently subjected to brutalisation, blindfolded and abducted by the police and taken to an unknown destination where he was further subjected to further violations and humiliation;
5. the NLC and TUC have made demands on the Government, which have not been met as at the time of this session;
6. the continued prevalence of the use of violence and impunity in negotiating rights and interests within the nation’s socioeconomic space against all known dictates of democracy and social dialogue;
Consequently, the NLC/TUC NEC-in-Session resolved as follows:
1. To order the immediate withdrawal of services and shutdown of Imo State beginning midnight today. All workers and affiliates are expected to ensure compliance from wherever they are. All flights into and out of Imo state, fuel supplies and electricity be stopped immediately as applicable. All public and private sector workers are to immediately down tools indefinitely.
2. That if our demands are still unmet, workers all over the federation shall join in withdrawing their services by Midnight Tuesday, the 14th of November, 2023
3. All State Councils of NLC & TUC and affiliates are by this resolution mandated to ensure full compliance with NEC’s decision
Comrade Adewale Adeyanju (Deputy President NLC)
Comrade Festus Osifo (President TUC)