Bearing any last minute decision, the United Labour Congress (ULC) under the leadership of Comrade Joe Ajaero, will today embark on an indefinite strike that is expected to shut down the country. The strike, if complied with by all concerned, will affect critical sectors such as transportation, banking, petroleum, power among others.
ULC’s grouse is same as what other unions have been demanding for, especially as it concerns payment of salaries with a little exception, such as removal of army and police from factories, the release of ULC registration certificate among others.
This strike, which is another hit on the poor masses in Nigeria, is the price to pay for the politicisation of our labour unions.
Let’s refresh our memories a little.
After the federal government removed subsidy on petroleum in the year 2016, labour unions resolved to go on strike (which was largely unsuccessful) to protest the decision on May 18, 2016.
In the build-up to the strike, the federal government went to the negotiation table with the Joe Ajaero-faction, then an aggrieved labour union, which later withdraw from the strike. But such was not extended to the NLC and TUC as the FG could not find a common ground with the two unions.
Consequently, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), through Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Abuja filed an ex-parte application before the National Industrial Court asking it to restrain both NLC and TUC from carrying out the threat to embark on the strike action.
The strike went on finally, but it flopped due to the withdrawal of ULC. While the crisis in NLC was brewing before the final exit of Joe Ajaero from the union, the federal government, instead of bringing the two factions together, played a divide and rule tactics and the strike failed.
That decision is what the masses are suffering for today. The moment the subsidy was removed, fuel price soared and the standard of living became unbearable for poor Nigerians.
Now, the ULC is about to go on a total strike, which will further deepen the woes of poor Nigerians. The federal government that romanced the ULC in 2016 now finds it difficult to control the same union in 2017.
The summary of this is that, the poor masses in nigeria are the pawns in the power play between the labour unions and the federal government.