Lagos, Abuja workers ignore NLC strike call

*But hoodlums  mount barricade at Fadeyi, local airport in Lagos

NLC mobilises for protest in Abuja. Photo Femi Ipaye

Indications are that Federal and state workers in Lagos and Abuja have ignored the strike call by the Nigeria Labour Congress  over the increase of petrol price from N86 to N145.

At the Alausa Secretariat in Lagos, workers reported as usual for work, after goevrnment on Tuesday reminded them of the order by the Industrial Court restraining the unions from embarking on strike.

In Abuja, workers also turned up for work.

Our correspondent  who went round the city said the residents of the Federal capital appear oblivious of any strike: “Abuja looks very busy, one can see people moving around and getting on with their business”, he said.

‘The banks are open. They are selling petrol. And people are moving about”, he added.

NLC in protest on Ikorodu Road in Lagos. Action disrupts traffic. Photo: Bukoye Oluwafunso

Some incidents were recorded however in Lagos. At Fadeyi, some hoodlums blocked the highway, setting expired tyres on fire on the main highway leading to the commercial centre of the metropolis. Police and armed soldiers however turned up to disperse the  NLC thugs.

At the Murtala Muhammed Airport, hoodlums also attempted to block travellers from accessing the airport.

Policemen going to clear hoodlums on Ikorodu Road earlier today

But the NLC leaders on their own may have re-interpreted the concept of strike  after the snub by the working class.

The leaders  chose to file out in peaceful demonstrations. In Lagos, they were seen marching on the Ikorodu expressway. In Abuja, our correspondent also met some of the members preparing for a procession in the city.

Signs of a strike fiasco were visible from last week when PENGASSAN and NUPENG, the major oil unions said they were not going to join the strike.

Then on Tuesday, a factional leader of the NLC, Joe Ajaero also backed out of the strike and struck a deal with government, the same day government procured an injunction from the Industrial Court against the NLC and TUC.

Mr Bobboi Kaigama, the President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), also abandoned the strike option and instead pledged the union’s support for the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.

Kaigama said that TUC would no longer embark on the nationwide strike as earlier proposed, adding that the decision was taken at the National Executive Council meeting of the TUC.

“We want to say that we have disengaged ourselves from this strike because we have been duly educated on the benefits of the fuel subsidy removal.”

He pledged continued support for government policies that would benefit Nigerian workers.

In Bauchi, there was a protest against the NLC itself by Buhari supporters.

To finally make the strike still-born, both Federal and state governments reminded workers of the no-pay, no work rule and the ruling by the Industrial Court.

In a statement late on Tuesday, the Federal Government ordered  the invocation of statutory provision of “no work no pay” on any worker who joined the strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) .

The directive was contained in a statement issued  by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.

The SGF ordered Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Government Agencies to enforce the directive and open attendance registers in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“This notice is regrettably given in spite of an order by the Industrial Court against the strike.

“All workers, whether in public or private sector, are reminded of the Trade Dispute Act, 2004 which provides:

“‘Where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or remuneration for the period of the strike and any such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment and all rights dependent on continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly.”

“Government, therefore, calls upon and advises all workers to respect the laws of the land and to desist from participating in an illegal strike action.

“Government undertakes to guarantee the safety of workers and their work places, and expects that normal work will continue in the interest of the nation, ” he said.

Lawal said that the security agencies had been directed to ensure unimpeded access to offices, work places and markets.

He assured that acts of intimidation, harassment, including barricading of gates, locking up of offices, blocking of roads and preventing workers from carrying out their lawful duties would be met with appropriate response by the law enforcement agencies.