Strike flops in Lagos as workers, banks shun NLC
.Ajaero Compliance level exceeds our expectations
While the first day of warning strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) achieved partial success in some states of the federation, expectations that the commercial capital of the country would be grounded failed as many commercial banks in Lagos State yesterday defied the call for withdrawal of service by Organised Labour.
Also, despite the heavy downpour throughout the day, there were beehives of activities at Mile 12 Market, Ketu Market and Oyingbo Market. Traders and buyers were seen transacting at the various markets while commercial transport operators were seen picking up passengers at various bus stops and motor parks.
NLC had declared a two-day nationwide strike on September 5 and 6 over increasing hardship and suffering caused by the removal of fuel subsidy. The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), in a circular dated September 2, directed all organs of the union to comply with the NLC strike.
Civil servants in Lagos also shunned the first day warning strike as they turned up for normal work at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja. The workers trooped in for work as early as 8a.m., with some arriving in staff buses.
The entrance gates leading to the secretariat as well as the state House of Assembly, had security patrol vans and Black-Maria vehicles by men of the state Rapid Response Squad (RRS) stationed to ward off any likelihood of unrest or indiscipline acts.
The secretariat recorded normal business activities and workers said they were unaware of the strike action as there was no directive to the effect. “We are on duty. We are also not part of the NLC, we are with TUC which is not part of the warning strike,” one Mr. Samuel said.
President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, who spoke yesterday morning on a television programme, Kakaaki, which was monitored by The Guardian, said the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong, who asked for more time since the government just got into office and not to jeopardise the gains already recorded, was a joke carried too far.
Ajaero said the compliance level exceeded his expectations. “We are pushing on to the next day of the warning strike. We are appreciative of all workers in Nigeria for being away from work today to press home our demand. I believe by tomorrow (today), they will continue on the same level of compliance so that the right signal will be sent to the government as to the preparedness of Nigerian workers to push on. If nothing is done, within 21 days we will go for the mother strike and shut down the economy,” he added.
In Lagos, among other Federal Government agencies, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) shut the entrance to the Apapa and Tincan post, with members brandished with placards, calling on the Federal Government to end the mass hunger and suffering in the country.
The Secretary-General of MWUN, Erazua Oniha, said in total compliance with the strike, members have withdrawn their services from the ports, jetties and terminals, as well as all oil and gas platforms nationwide.
He said this was to dissuade the government from intimidatory activities towards the unions, as well as put measures in place to stop the deterioration of the nation’s economy and the masses’ suffering.
“Our demand is about the hike over the PMS which is making the lives of Nigerians to be somehow difficult due to the removal of subsidy. Another one is the interference of FG in the NURTW crisis, whereby the national secretariat of the body was taken over,” he said.
Even the banks that are unionised and under NUBIFIE, were not left out as their head offices were shut down by labour.
Some of the banks and other institutions that operated, The Guardian gathered are the ones not unionised and operating under ASSBIFI, because they are members of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and not part of the NLC strike.
A visit to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), showed that the College of Medicine complied with the NLC strike as the gate was shut down.
Workers in the construction sector too were left behind as workers in all sites and the head office of Julius Berger was in solidarity with the NLC strike. This left some of the roads and other construction works across the states to put on hold.
Chairman of NLC, Lagos Council, Funmi Sessi, said the members are at home and that those operating were TUC members.
“All NLC affiliates are at home. Those at workplaces are TUC members. If we say we should go and do a total shut down there might be a breakdown of law and order between us and TUC. I will be at Alausa secretariate to monitor the compliance level and those who are out will be reported to the national body,” she said.
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