By Joshua Chibuzo Andrew, Owerri
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and its counterpart union, Trade Union Congress, TUC, have embarked on indefinite industrial strike on 12 Am of Tuesday, May 2023.
The decision, according to a release jointly signed by the Secretary Generals of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja and Trade Union Congress, Comrade Nuhu Toro, the sister union alleged that the May Day celebration which held on Monday, 1st May, 2023, in Owerri, the Imo state capital, was disrupted by thugs suspected to be working for the government of Imo state.
Their statement read; “the joint session of the NLC and TUC after careful deliberation on the disruption of Workers May Day celebration held on Monday, 1st May, 2023, on Owerri, the Imo state capital by the agents of Imo state government, strongly and vehemently condemned the unprovoked assault on Imo state workers and resolved that the government of Imo state has grossly violated the rules of engagement among the social partners in industrial relations by using thugs to violently disrupt the smooth process of the May Day celebration.
“That properties worth millions were vandalized and looted by the invading thugs of the government and some workers sustained various degrees of injuries as a result of the attack. That the government of Imo state has become a serial abuser of the workers rights and privileges committing several infractions in the process. That the government of Imo state has therefore made sane and civil social dialogue difficult in the state.
“The joint session has however resolved to withdraw the guarantee of industrial peace in Imo state and has embarked on a comprehensive shutdown of Imo state with effect from Wednesday, 3rd May, 2023.
“All affiliates of both NKC and TUC in the state are by this notice mandated to withdraw their services in Imo stare beginning from 12 midnight on Tuesday, 2nd May, 2023 until the state government restores and guarantees that protection of lives and properties of workers in Imo state. The state government is to sign the agreement reached between it and the workers in the month of March, 2023. That NLC and TUC will monitor compliance of all affiliates with the decisions of the joint CWC in session and will not hesitate to escalate it to a nationwide strike if positive results are not achieved quickly within days.
“We will hold the governor of Imo state, Senator Hope Uzodinma responsible for any further harm done to any worker in the state now, during and after the industrial action.”
Reacting to the development, the Imo state President of the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Comrade Rev. Richards Eze, described the purported strike action as uncalled for and unwarranted.
According to him, it was instituted by the National Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbuaja in connivance with the factional state Caretaker Committee chairman, George Ofoegbu, to cause problems for Imo workers and the government of Imo state by extension.
He said that Imo workers are currently enjoying a robust relationship with the government of Imo state and the Governor, according to him, had started implementing on the demands of the Labour unions including his most recent promise during the May Day celebration to offset the backlog of pensions ad gratuities way back from 2007.
“The purported strike action that is billed to commence today is unwarranted and uncalled for. It is ill-timed especially now that the government of Imo state has shown its readiness to meet all the demands of the workers in the state.
“It is true that the NLC in Imo state has internal issues but we must say the truth at all time. Trouble started when the General Secretary of the Union in connivance with some high and mighty members at the federal level were bent on imposing George Ofoegbu on the Imo NLC as its chairman but that will be a discussion for another day.
“I am the President of NULGE in Imo state and I can tell you that such call on Imo workers to embark on an impromptu industrial action is, to say the least, unwarranted and uncalled for. As long as I am concerned, NULGE is not part of the plan. I also know that so many other labour institutions in the state including the Nigeria Union of Teachers, will not adhere to this. The purported industrial, I bet, will not hold.”
Several calls put across to the Imo state chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Rev. Philip Nwansi, proved abortive as he failed to pick up.