• News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: November 15, 2023

NLC, TUC: Oshiomhole berates Ajaero, Osifo, says strike is misplaced priority

NLC, TUC: Oshiomhole berates Ajaero, Osifo, says strike is m

According to Senator Adams Oshiomhole, the ongoing nationwide strike by the organised labour of NLC and TUC is a misplaced priority. 

Oshiomhole stated that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) should focus on worker welfare rather than party considerations.

The former Edo State governor, who rose to prominence as a labour campaigner before becoming president of the NLC, questioned why the labour centres would not take on state governments that do not pay the N35,000 minimum wage but would go on strike just because its chairman was assaulted.

Following a meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima, the former Edo State governor addressed at Aso Villa yesterday.

The NLC and TUC embarked on the strike yesterday in response to last week's violent assault on NLC President Joe Ajaero in Owerri, the capital of Imo State.

Ajaero flew into Owerri to protest the non-payment of workers' outstanding salary arrears. Despite the workers' leadership's rejection of his intervention, the NLC said that it would "occupy Imo State."

He was beaten up while picketing at the airport upon his arrival, and the police brought him into "protective custody." A snapshot of Ajaero's swollen face appeared on social media a few hours later.

He hadn't been seen in public in days. When he returned, he claimed the police had detained him and turned him over to hoodlums who had abused him.

Despite the police's denials, Inspector-General Kayode Egbetokun redeployed Mohammed Barde of the Imo State Commission of Police and ordered an inquiry.

TUC President Festus Osifo called the strike on Monday, saying it will last indefinitely.

"Unfortunately, this strike is not about those issues," Oshiomhole remarked. "And I think we have to be careful not to mix our political opinion with our responsibilities because the issues confronting workers are so many that they should become the priority."

Oshiomhole asked the NLC to emphasise holding state governments responsible for the N30,000 minimum wage accord, which applies to both local and state government employees.

He questioned why the NLC was not organising workers against states that were still failing to implement the legislated minimum wage while focusing on the federal government.

He advised union leaders to engage strongly on matters such as unpaid salaries but warned against obviously politicised tactics.

"The Federal Government had granted a N35,000 increase. And those negotiations were intended to be for and on behalf of all workers in Nigeria, including those employed by local governments and state governments, not just the Federal Government.

"Any additional revenue generated by the withdrawal of subsidies should be distributed to the states and local governments.

"I wish someone in the NLC recognised that the hunger in the stomachs of federal employees is no worse than the hunger in the stomachs of state or local government employees", the senator stated. 

He pointed further, "Even as a senator, if these are the problems on the table, I will publicly advocate action against any administration that believes we should lament our hunger while the people do what they do.

"Labour can't be apolitical because politics is all about people. And, when I was in the NLC, I contended that no one has a greater right to be political than those who turn the will of our industrial advancement.

"You must be careful not to appear to be doing the bidding of a specific candidate or political party." As President of the NLC, I made no political friends."

He expressed his opposition to violence against any Nigerian while emphasising that the NLC's priority should be to address the hierarchy of workers' concerns.

"However, let me be clear. I oppose the brutalization of any Nigerian. Any Nigerian, including journalists and the unemployed and of course, a Labour leader included," he concluded. 

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