Organised Labour calls off planned strike but here’s how strike actions can become history

Constant strike actions are a disturbing phenomenon Nigerians are all too familiar with and are counter-productive to a nation’s economic growth because it paralyzes economic activities that result in the loss of productive man-hours that could have generated revenue for the nation during the strike period.

Virtually every sector of our economy experiences at least one nationwide strike action every year under successive governments as a result of unpopular policies and legislations that seek to impoverish the people rather than address their needs. Just this year alone, different sectors of the nation have had to embark on more strike actions than they bargained for. The recently called-off planned labour strike, doctors’ strike and the ongoing ASUU strike are a few cases in point.

And, while we sing to the high heavens to demand accountability and responsible leadership every other day, it seems strike actions are the best way to get the ears of Nigeria’s leaders. At least, that is the only time they ‘react’ to the plight of the people. Perhaps, it is time for a paradigm shift in the way our government responds when the masses cry out to be relieved from the heavy burdens resulting from their unpopular policies.

Just this morning, it was reported that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) called off the planned nationwide strike that was slated for today, Monday, September 28, 2020, against the hike in fuel pump price and electricity tariff after reaching an agreement with the government during a late-night meeting on Sunday, September 27, 2020, which ended in the early hours of Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to reports, both parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments and Government Agencies, including the NLC and TUC, to work out modalities of the terms of the agreement within the next two weeks.

The parties also agreed on the need to reduce the country’s overdependence on the importation of petroleum products and promote the expansion of the local refining capacity.

Despite reaching an agreement, Nigerians are still concerned because there is no guarantee yet that the government would fulfil its part to the satisfaction of the people. Also, there is no guarantee that the outcome of the agreement reached will keep NLC and TUC from going ahead with the suspended strike. Meanwhile, the entire nation is watching to see how it all pans out.

While we await beneficial results, frequent strike actions could, perhaps, be a thing of the past if only our leaders are willing to effectively engage all stakeholders in policy-making to promote inclusive governance.

Inclusive governance comes with several benefits both for the government and for the people as it increases accountability and trust in government institutions. When the government makes it a habit to involve the people in policy-making, it becomes easier to make policies that are mutually beneficial while fostering democratic values and sustainable development. Because when no group of persons is left behind in policy-making, there will most likely be no need for industrial strike actions that negatively impact on the economy.

Inclusive growth is crucial not only for a fairer society but also for a stronger economy. Income gaps between the rich and the poor have widened, and these inequalities undermine economic growth and strain the relationship between government and citizens. Countries are searching for new ways to improve living standards while sharing the benefits of growth more evenly across all groups in society. In responding to the challenge of inclusive growth, the public sector has an important role to play, with respect to the inclusiveness of the public sector itself, the inclusiveness of policy-making processes, and the inclusiveness of the outcomes that governments seek to promote.” – OECD.

Meanwhile, here is how Nigerians are reacting to the suspended labour strike:

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