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STRIKE: Presidency, NLC Clash Over National Grid Shutdown As Labour Alleges Soldiers Surround Meeting Venue

The presidency and the organised labour have traded words over the shutting down of the national grid to enforce compliance of all workers during the ongoing strike...READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶▶▶

Labour took to strike on Monday demanding pay rise of N494, 000 as minimum wage while the federal government has offered N60000, months which has been flatly rejected by the workers.

As negotiation continues, the presidency has taken exception to the total shutdown of the national grid which the Transmission Company of Nigeria via its spokesperson, Ndidi Mbah, said was forcefully enforced.

Labour denied the allegation calling it sheer blackmail, saying no group of workers stormed the transmission facility to enforce compliance as alleged by the TCN.

Irked by what the government said was a hostile act, Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and other groups that shut down the national grid should be thankful that Nigeria is not under a military regime.

Speaking during an interview with TVC News on Monday evening, Onanuga advised Labour “to view itself as a partner with the Federal Government, not as an adversary to the Federal Government”.

“Labour should be thankful to God that we are not in a military regime. We are in a civilian regime that allows for freedom of expression.

“I think that labour overstepped their bounds by shutting down the national grid. At a time when we are complaining about the lack of power, I think that act is extreme. You’re not supposed to shut down the airports on everyone else. Joining the strike should be voluntary.

”I will appeal to labour to be more responsible in their reaction. They cannot be asking for what they are asking for. It is unrealistic.

But the NLC defended its action in a statement made available to journalists by its President, Joe Ajaerovon Monday evening saying, “The Nigeria Labour Congress categorically states that Nigerian workers will not be intimidated by the management of any organisation or government entity over our rightful decision to withdraw services through the indefinite nationwide strike that commenced earlier this morning.

“The spreading of outright falsehood to mislead the public instead of working with other stakeholders to resolve the issues raised by Nigerian workers via the NLC and TUC is not helpful in any way.”

The statement further said, “It will rather inflame the anger of the suffering masses who are already burdened by the cruel policies of the federal government.

“It is important that we address the press statement by the Transmission Company of Nigeria where they made false claims regarding the indefinite nationwide strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress.

“The Transmission Company of Nigeria should understand that the company is not the only one impacted by the massive withdrawal of service across the nation by Nigerian workers. It should therefore not make it a TCN affair, as other organisations also suffer from one breakdown in service or the other as a result of the nationwide industrial action.

“The management of TCN ought to have realised that the NLC and TUC issued a notice to the Federal Government since the beginning of May 2024 on the issues of non-completion of the National Minimum Wage negotiation exercise and passage into Law and the vexatious hike in electricity tariff.

“We had demanded the completion of the wage-setting process and a reversal of the hike in electricity tariff back to N66/kWh without any positive response from the government.

“One wonders whether TCN’s management needs education on the dynamics of industrial action? It is not true that we manhandled anybody in any TCN location. Maybe, TCN in its effort to scuttle the strike tried to force workers to be at work not realising the resolve of all workers to stay away.

“Why would the grid not go down when the workers who operate them decide to withdraw their service? That is how it works and it further demonstrates that without workers, no wheel can turn; no work can take place anywhere.

“Nigerian workers, led by the NLC and TUC, have exercised due caution and unusual patience in our engagement with our social partners, and this restraint has been grossly abused, unfortunately, which has led us to the present impasse.

“Trying to buck-pass instead of accepting blame and taking necessary steps to put its house in order will not allow the Transmission Company of Nigeria to make discernible progress.

“We would like the organisation to take adequate measures to ensure that it discharges its responsibilities to Nigerians, especially in the Electricity sector, instead of dissipating its energy on trying to insult Nigerian workers by its deliberate peddling of falsehood.

“We have been duly informed that the TCN management has resorted to the use of the military in its effort to intimidate and harass workers in its employ who are carrying out their lawful and democratic duties at various TCN plants around Nigeria.”

The statement added, “It is also important that we inform TCN that deploying military men to its locations is a clear abuse and insult to the military, especially in a democracy. We are sure that members of the military so misused by this deployment are not happy with the management and the authorities who have authorised the deployment.

“The NLC and TUC remain steadfast in their commitment to the emancipation of downtrodden Nigerians and will persist in the struggle for a fair and just living wage, as well as the reversal of the excessive electricity tariff hike. We call on all Nigerians to stand in solidarity with us as we demand the implementation of policies that prioritise the well-being of the people. We will not back down, and we will not give in to any blackmail, intimidation, or harassment.”

Meanwhile, Labour via its official social media handles has alleged that the venue of the negotiation to end the strike has been surrounded by heavily armed soldiers.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation George Akume had summoned the Labour leaders for fresh negotiation on Monday evening at his office.

Labour fre minutes into the meeting raised an alarm that the venue had been surrounded by soldiers.

“Soldiers are Presently sorrounding the venue of the meeting between Labour and Government at the premises of the SGF,” a tweet from the official handle of the workers said.

It warned, “Any Attempt to Intimidate, Provoke or Blackmail Our Leaders at The Negotiation Table would worsen the issue and further Prolong our action indefinitely.

“Our Leaders are acting in accordance with directives of Our Organs. Viva! Organized Labour, Viva! Working People Of Nigeria!”

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