Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

By Ojukwu Emmanuel Chiadikaobi

 

Starting today, Nigeria is facing a nationwide strike initiated by the organized labour unions, disrupting essential services including fuel distribution, banking, health services, and more, due to unresolved issues regarding minimum wage adjustments and recent increases in electricity tariffs.

Despite last-ditch efforts by prominent government officials including Senate President Godswill Akpabio, House Speaker Tajudeen Abbas, and other top cabinet members in a marathon meeting with leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the strike went ahead as planned. The government has declared the strike premature and illegal, urging the labour unions to reconsider their position and resume negotiations.

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has rallied its senior staff associations including the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), to ensure strict compliance across their sectors. The call for action follows a breakdown in negotiations for a new national minimum wage, where the latest government offer of N60,000 was rejected by the unions, demanding a higher wage of N494,000 to match the cost of living increases.

Critical unions such as the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) have been mobilized, with the educational sector also participating under the directive of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), which has called for a complete shutdown of schools.

While most unions are participating, the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) has opted out, urging a peaceful resolution through dialogue instead of industrial action. Meanwhile, the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (M&HWUN) is set to shut down health facilities, aligning with the NLC’s strategy for a total shutdown to press the government into action.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) confirmed their participation, which might further cripple academic activities already strained by separate union activities. However, their rival, the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), is still deciding its stance.

As the strike unfolds, the impact is expected to be widespread, affecting daily activities and the overall economy. The Federal Government and labour representatives remain at a standoff, with the potential for further disruptions if a compromise is not reached swiftly.

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