Employers Reject NLC’s Plan to ‘Shut Down Economy’

The proposed strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) will be counter-productive if it goes ahead, private employers of labour cautioned yesterday.

According to them, the NLC should seek better opportunities for its members to cushion subsidy removal pain through dialogue with the government.

Early in the month, NLC President Joe Ajaero called out workers on a 2-day warning strike, but it attracted mixed compliance on September 5 and 6.

Announcing the warning strike, Ajaero, who shunned a meeting called by Labour Minister, Simon Lalong, said a “total shut down of the economy” would follow in 14 days, unless the government reversed the pump price of petrol to pre-May 29, among other reasons.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) which declined to join the NLC for the warning strike opted for a dialogue with the government within two weeks.

In a September 8 letter to the government, the TUC said it was expecting a response from the government on its proposals.

The NLC has, however, opted to go ahead with its plan to mobilise workers for an indefinite strike.

But, a former Vice-President of NLC Comrade, Issa Aremu
said the industrial action was preventable.

Aremu, who is the director-general of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) said: “Strikes are just the means not to an end. The end is improved welfare for working men and women at this challenging times.

“I know that President Tinubu is concerned about the plight of all. His quotable quote is ‘let’s the poor breath.’’

Aremu said Lalong had demonstrated commitment to dialogue with NLC and TUC.

He stressed: “Strikes are therefore, preventable. I think both government and organised labor will soon find a common ground.

“Strike is certainly not inevitable, indeed it is preventable, but rewarding negotiations and compromises by the two parties.”

The Director-General of the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Adewale-Smart Oyerinde, who featured on a television programme last night, said the proposed strike would be counter-productive, adding that it would hurt employers and employees.

The NECA boss, who applauded the Federal Government for the steps taken so far, however, said there was need for the government to do more.

He said: “The approval of N5billion to each state is a step, because if the money is well spent in a state economy, it will trigger some level of consumption, which will also go back into production.

“We are also aware that the government is sharing rice. But, these efforts are not enough.”

Oyerinde said the strike would not in any way address the challenges confronting employers, employees and the generality of Nigerians.

In his view, it was possible for parties in the dispute to renegotiate already agreed terms.

Oyerinde added: “Our position remains the same on the issue. And that is, if you negotiate, courtesy demands that you live up to the terms of negotiation.

“But, if anything arises that makes it difficult to live up to the terms of the negotiation, there is opportunity to renegotiate the terms that have been agreed upon, if you don’t have the capacity to implement.”

The DG said going on strike would distress stakeholders.