Kogi Workers Join Nationwide Strike, Appeal for Fruitful Negotiations

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By Stephen Adeleye.

Workers in Kogi have fully complied with the directive of the national body of the Organised labour unions to embark on an indefinite strike nationwide on June 3.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) declared an indefinite nationwide strike to begin on Monday.

The industrial action was to express their grievances over the proposed new minimum wage, as well as the electricity tarrif hike from N66 to N225kw/hr.

A visit by NAN Correspondent to most of the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Monday in Lokoja, showed that many workers were not at their duty post as some MDAs’ gates were locked.

Roads were partially deserted as leaders of Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria, TOAN, and Motorcycle Organisation Association of Nigeria, MOAN also enforced compliance by its members.

Some of the managers of the fueling station visited, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed support for Organised Labour, saying though painful but necessary for the survival of all.

At the Kogi State Secretariat in Zone, the offices were deserted by workers and the few ones on ground were seen gisting under in the premises.

A handful of workers seen in some of the offices were top management officers, who declined speaking to the media.

However, a director in one of the ministries, who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, said, “we just have to come to office as management officers to perform skeletal duties.

“The issue of minimum wage that the Organised labour is fighting for is a just course for the benefits of all workers in Nigeria.

“As management staff, we are fully in support of the industrial action because the present economic hardship is too much to bear for us.

“We are appealing to the Federal and State Governments to do the needful and immediately accede to labour’s demands,” the director said.

A visit to the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja (FTHL), revealed that the health workers also joined the strike though offering skeletal services.

Dr Zubair Kabiru, a former Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association, Kogi chapter, told NAN that the health workers at FTH Lokoja joined the strike.

“The ongoing strike by the NLC/TUC is a complex issue. While industrial action can be a powerful tool to pressure for change, it can also disrupt the economy.

“Potential impact of the strike: A prolonged strike could have negative consequences for the economy, impacting businesses and ordinary Nigerians.

“Negotiation and compromise are crucial. The government should address the concerns of workers while considering economic realities.

“Both sides need to find a middle ground to resolve the issue and minimize disruption,” Zubair said.

Another doctor at FTH Lokoja, who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, commended the Organised labour for fighting for the course of Nigeria workers.

“While we are grateful to the NLC for fighting for the course of the Nigeran workers, l will appeal that the NLC should get back to the negotiating table with the government.

“I also appeal that government should work towards speedy resolution of the impasse because both the status quo and the strike is making life difficult for the Nigerian workers.

“I also appeal that essential workers should stay at their duty posts,” the doctor said.

However, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of FTHL, Dr Olatunde Alabi, appealed to members of the enforcing team to give the health Institution time to wind down in view of critical situation of some of thier patients.

At Kogi State Specialist Hospital (KSSH) Lokoja, the President of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Dr Ameh Friday, said the strike was timely.

“People are really suffering, the hardship is too much everything is on the high side. I pray the government look in the direction of the masses and intervene urgently.

“NLC is ready for a dialogue and urgent implementation, Ameh said.

However, Mr Abdul Miliki, the Executive Director, Conscience for human rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), told NAN that the strike was unnecessary and uncalled for.

According to Miliki, the labour movement demand on minimum wage is outrageous, unreliable and realistic.

“Labour has not educated the people and have not done situation analysis, and many States will not be able to pay it,” Miliki said.

Dr Kennedy Obohwemu, the Founder/CEO of PENKUP International, and a multiple ward-winning Author, said the strike underscored the ongoing tensions between the Nigerian government and its workforce.

According to him, it highlights critical issues within Nigeria’s labor relations and governance.

“The government’s handling of the negotiations and subsequent fallout reveals systemic problems in addressing worker grievances and implementing policies that significantly impact the populace.

“The union’s decision to strike, despite a court order against it, reflects deep-seated frustration and a perceived lack of genuine commitment from the government to resolve these issues amicably.

“The situation calls for urgent interventions to avoid prolonged economic and social disruptions​,” Obohwemu said.

On his part, Dr Nuhu Anyegwu, the immediate past Provost, College of Health and Science Technology (CHST), Idah, said the strike was necessary because an average Nigerian are suffering.

“Average Nigerians feel that government does not know or understand that her citizens are undergoing intense suffering occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.

“The gains ought to be added to the wages of workers who are at the receiving end of the negative impact of such removal.

“This is a year now, nothing has been done as per the increment of workers salary.

“Labour is using her last weapon on government, forcing them into positive, meaningful and realistic actions in this regard.

“Nevertheless, Labour should approach the negotiation with government and call for strike with all sense of maturity responsibility and understanding so that the economy be not further crippled,” Anyegwu said.

The Chairman of NLC-TUC Enforcement Team, Opaluwa Eleojo, said the labour actions would be sustained until government bows to the clarion call of the impoverished Nigerians who are dying of hunger.

Eleojo, who also doubles as NLC Vice Chairman in Kogi, called on Nigerians to rally round the Organised Labour to achieve set goals.

End


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