The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has clarified that issuing ultimatums to the government does not signify an enthusiasm for strike actions but rather a necessary step to press for the implementation of agreed terms.
This clarification comes in the wake of criticisms directed at the labour unions for their frequent calls for industrial action.
In a recent development, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) handed down a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, demanding the fulfilment of a 16-point agreement established with workers in October of the previous year.
This ultimatum has reignited discussions around the labour unions’ strategy in engaging with the government over workers’ rights and welfare issues.
The Head of International Relations for the NLC, Uchenna Ekwe, while speaking on Channels Television’s The Morning Brief on Friday, responded to the criticisms by stating that ultimatums are issued only after repeated reminders to the government have gone unheeded.
Ekwe said, “Usually people see when NLC starts putting warning, and if you notice the comments, people will say we don’t want a strike, it will disrupt. Balancing all these, Let me make this clear, the NLC is actually never interested in a strike, we don’t want a strike; we want the right things to be done.
“Before you see us issue a public ultimatum, there must have been many communications that are not meant public to the government system calling their attention to probably an agreement like in this case.”
NLC voiced dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s lacklustre response to the 16-point agreement reached with labour unions in October of the previous year.
Despite numerous communications reminding the government of its commitments, the unions have observed minimal progress, with several key items still unaddressed.
Ekwe countered claims that the labour unions are merely showcasing their influence or attempting to suppress public dissent over the country’s economic challenges.
He stressed that such actions would not serve the interests of Nigerian workers or the populace at large.
He emphasized the genuine desire of the unions to see tangible outcomes from the agreements made with the government.
A significant point of contention has been the partial implementation of the wage award included in the agreement. Ekwe highlighted that many states have failed to implement the wage increase, further exacerbating the situation for workers across the country.
Additionally, the issue of inadequate palliatives has come to the forefront, with only Borno and Kebbi states making substantial efforts to support their citizens.
The distribution of meagre quantities of rice and other items in other states was criticized by Ekwe as insufficient and dismissive of the genuine hardships faced by many Nigerians.