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Stakeholders canvass overhaul of labour unions, activism

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• ACF commends NLC, TUC for suspending strike
• Unionists betrayed Nigerians, says CNPP

Stakeholders have advocated an overhaul of labour unionism and activism in Nigeria, insisting that their approach to critical state matters were dated, especially in the way they handled negotiations with the Federal Government over Monday’s suspended strike.

Majority of them who spoke with The Guardian maintained that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) betrayed Nigerians during their meeting with government by averting a proposed protest due to promises of palliatives.

They said the labour leaders demoralised Nigerians by abandoning the industrial action with the promise of mere palliatives, which might end up not getting to the masses.

A lawyer and expert on labour matters, Paul Omoijiade, said labour leaders were incompetent in the negotiation process, adding that they were unprofessional and lacked understanding of the level of corruption around the petroleum subsidy issue.

Also, a director at the Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Professor Anthony Kila, said what played out was a symptom of the rot in the nation’s institutions, adding that the labour unions were suffering from mistrust and lack of clarity on issues.

On his part, Director-General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Timothy Olawale, said the Federal Government lacked the wherewithal to grant injunction on Pay As You Earn (PAYE), as it was administered and managed by state governments.

He said the increase in pump price of petrol and electricity tariff, affected all Nigerians and not government workers alone, and admonished that government’s palliatives should reach the appropriate quarters.

BESIDES, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said NLC and TUC’s decision to shelve the proposed strike and mass protest to demand truce with Federal Government, failed to achieve its desired purpose.

National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, who reacted to the suspension of the proposed strike, said that Nigerians should await the final outcome of negotiations between labour and the Federal Government before jumping into conclusions whether or not the masses’ interest would be protected.

He stressed that the recent increase in the price of petrol and hike in electricity tariff was already taking toll on Nigerians, as the policy has exacerbated the sufferings of the people.

MEANWHILE, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has lampooned labour leaders for suspending the strike, saying it was a betrayal of the trust Nigerians had for organised labour.

CNPP said as representative of opposition parties and civil society groups, it was not disappointed that the labour unions chickened out at the last minute.

In a statement by its Secretary General, Willy Ezugwu, it said: “We expected that this would happen and that was why the CNPP opted to rally civil society movements across the country. We are monitoring the situation and rejigging our plans in view of the obvious reality that the ordinary citizens who cannot go to Abuja are on their own.”


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