By KEMI KASUMU
The two-day warning strike of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) commenced on Tuesday but witnessed partial compliance from workers in some parts of the country, including Lagos State, Rivers State, and Abuja.
This was as banks, by the directives of their employees’ union, also complied with the NLC directives to down tool as fuel subsidy removal in the face of non-impactful palliatives arrangements has continued to bite Nigerians hard and harder.
Some banks in Lagos were seen opening their doors for business as at the time of filing this report Tuesday morning.
A media on-the-spot assessment of the situation showed some Lagosians expressing frustration over the hardship occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Tinubu.
Workers of Ikeja Electric were locked out of their offices as some members of the union manned the gate to turn customers back.
But the industrial action order did not have any effect at the Lagos State Secretariat where workers were seen going about their regular business, it was gathered.
In Abuja, the block housing the Federal Ministry of Education at the Federal Secretariat was locked for about five minutes and later opened for civil servants to resume work.
Meanwhile, other blocks at the secretariat remained open with workers going into the building for work.
However, the turnout of workers is significantly low compared to other workdays.
The situation was similar at the Rivers State Secretariat as some civil servants were seen at the Secretariat.
In the meantime, the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) has joined the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the “punishing” economic situation in the country.
The union stated this in a circular dated September 2, 2023 signed by its General Secretary, Mohammed Sheikh, and addressed to “All Zonal Councils/Domestic Committee”.
According to the bank employees, the industrial action was in line with the communique issued after the meeting of National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The NLC executive committee meeting held last Thursday directed that all affiliates should direct all its members to commence two days’ withdrawal of services on Tuesday (today) and Wednesday.
“The directive is imperative to get the needed attention of government and warn it of its newfound love of meddling in the internal affairs of unions rather than address the punishing economic circumstances we find ourselves.
“We hereby direct all our organs to comply with this directive by ensuring all our members stay off-duty for the two days. Your cooperation in this regard will be appreciated.”
President Bola Tinubu announced in his inaugural speech on May 29 that “fuel subsidy is gone,” leading to fuel prices more than tripling nationwide and a rising cost of living.
The NLC declared the warning strike last Friday, saying it was in protest against the Federal Government’s failure to address the challenges caused by the removal of fuel subsidies.
The labour union is accusing the Federal Government of abandoning the negotiations and failing to implement some of the resolutions from previous meetings with the government.
On August 2, organised labour protested what it described as the anti-people policies of the administration of President Bola Tinubu.
The NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliate unions demonstrated in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and several states, including Lagos, Abia, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Rivers, Zamfara, Katsina, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kwara, Ogun, Imo, Ondo, and Edo.
The protest followed a seven-day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government demanding “the immediate reversal of all anti-poor policies of the federal government including the recent hike in PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) price, increase in public school fees, the release of the eight months withheld salary of university lecturers and workers”.
The union also demanded an upward review of the minimum wage from N30,000 to N200,000, saying that since the President’s “subsidy is gone” inauguration speech of May 29, 2023, the peace of mind of Nigerians has gone.