The Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) on Tuesday commenced a two-day nationwide warning strike to express their deep discontent over the prevailing economic challenges that have plagued the nation.
Defying persistent entreaties from the government, the NLC stood firm in their resolve to take a stand for the Nigerian workforce amid the rising cost of living, and soaring inflation rate due to the recent removal of fuel subsidies by the government.
The issue of fuel subsidies has long been a contentious and sensitive one in Nigeria, with previous attempts at removal leading to widespread public outcry and protests.
Many affiliates of the labor union in the national capital of Abuja adhered to the directive, with banks, government ministries, departments, and agencies also under lock and key in compliance with the sit-at-home order for workers.
Customers aiming to deposit money in banks and patients to public hospitals were turned away by the enforcement team of the NLC in the southwestern state of Oyo, as workers in the establishments complied with the warning strike, the official News Agency of Nigeria reported.
Kayode Martins, leader of the NLC in Oyo, told reporters that there would not be any street demonstration during the two-day industrial action.
“So, we are insisting that the federal government should listen to the cry of labor, and make sure that workers’ demands are met,” Martins said.
In a bid to avert the scheduled nationwide strike, the Nigerian government on Monday appealed to the labor union to reconsider their decision and continue negotiations.
Addressing a press conference in the capital of Abuja, Minister of Labor and Employment Simon Lalong said the appeal had become necessary in order to ensure a robust line of communication with Nigerians and, in particular, the organized labor to forestall a breakdown of industrial peace.
“Such action would be detrimental to the gains already being recorded on our course to securing a greater future for Nigerian workers and citizens at large,” Lalong said, calling on the labor union to give the government some time to settle and address “the issues on the ground holistically.”
Emphasizing that the government was determined to pursue policies aimed at massive employment generation in all sectors of the economy, the minister urged organized labor to note the importance of dialogue over industrial action.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC), a sister union to the NLC, has taken a different stance on the matter, according to several local media reports Monday.
Instead of joining the nationwide strike, the TUC has expressed its willingness to continue engaging in dialogue and negotiation with the government.