The national executive councils of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress on Wednesday night suspended their nationwide strike over an alleged assault on the President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero.
The unions said the suspension followed the intervention of the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu.
However, the organised Private Sector and the maritime operators carpeted the NLC and TUC over the industrial action, stating that it was ill-timed and misconceived.
The OPS comprising critical players in the economy noted that the strike would affect the Federal Government’s ability to meet its yearly revenue target.
Our correspondent gathered that the organised Labour meeting which commenced a few minutes past 7pm lasted for close to one hour during which various affiliates and state chapters reviewed the outcome of the meeting held between the leaders of the organized Labour and the NSA.
“The NSA is particularly worried about the implications of the strike action on the livelihood of ordinary Nigerians and its potential impact on economic security and other strategic national interests.
“As attested by the NLC leadership, the NSA immediately intervened on learning about the travails of the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Joseph Ajero who was assaulted in Owerri, Imo State.
“The NSA regrets the incident and condemns it in its entirety as it was against the rule of law and the principles of freedom of association and expression subscribed to by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his administration.
“The Federal Government will never condone such an act. As fallout of the incident, relevant authorities were directed to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the assault and bring to book the culprits. An available update indicates that some arrests have already been made in this regard. The outcome of the investigation will be made public as soon as it is concluded.
“The Federal Government, through the Office of the NSA, therefore, appeals to the labour leadership to call off the current strike action and allow the dialogue process underway to be exhausted.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, has expressed optimism that the industrial action would soon be called off.
Giving an insight into the parley with the NSA, the Deputy President of the TUC, Etim, told The PUNCH the NSA also briefed the leadership of the organized Labour on the steps taken so far in implementing the demands of the labour unions.
He also noted that the union leaders secured the commitment of the NSA, adding that the union leaders were satisfied with the steps taken so far by the government.
Meanwhile, the NLC has listed six demands that must be met before labour unions before it can call off the strike indefinitely.
It listed the six conditions in a post via its official X handle (formerly known as Twitter) on Tuesday.
The NLC said a special adviser to the Imo governor on special duties who allegedly led the attack on the NLC president and other workers in the state must be arrested and prosecuted.
The union also said all police officers as well as thugs involved in the attack on the labour leader should be arrested, prosecuted, and dismissed.
Ruing the costs of the strike on the economy, the OPS noted that the strike was coming at a time when the naira was struggling to stabilise.
On his part, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, described the decision of the organised labour to go on strike over an assault on the NLC President as an abuse of power.
Two days into the strike, licensed customs agents operating in the nation’s maritime sector, said that the country had lost between N10bn to N20bn following the lockdown of the ports by the Maritime Workers Unions of Nigeria.
One of our correspondents observed that as of Wednesday, access to Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports was restricted as workers were denied entry into the facilities.
Giving an update on the development, the Deputy National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Mr Nnadi Ugochukwu said, “The country is losing and the individuals are also losing. I have a customer here who was supposed to take delivery of his vehicles yesterday (Tuesday) but he couldn’t, having to pay demurrage of about N500,000 on a car for two weeks.
“He is paying N30,000 daily. He had paid today (Wednesday) and he can’t take it today so he will still pay for another day tomorrow. So, everybody is losing but I can’t equate how much that is being lost.’’
Also speaking, the Chairman of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Tin Can Island Chapter, Abayomi Duyile, said that so far, the economy had lost between N10bn to N20bn in the sector within the two days of the strike.
He said, “The cost for these days now should be in billions. Let’s just say they have lost about N20bn in these few days. You know a day you do not work in our clime, you know the cost implications.
Workers did not turn up for work and patients were turned back at the public hospitals.
While workers in the public schools observed the strike, private schools carried on with their academic activities.
Banks in the state did not fully observe the strike.
The Niger State Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Abdul Mohammed, stated, “ASUU is complying with the strike action. We want the Federal Government to be aware that we are not happy with the treatment being meted out on Nigerian workers and they must take urgent steps to address our demands.”
In Bauchi, there was a near total compliance to the strike, The PUNCH reports.
Our correspondent observed that some banks that operated skeletal services on Tuesday, the first day of the strike, complied fully on Wednesday, as they were under lock and key.
Schools were shut just as the Federal High Court, the Jos Electricity Distribution Company, and the Federal and State Secretariats were all shut.
Transport workers, including commercial buses and tricycle operators, did not suspend operations.
The strike has grounded academic activities at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto as the ASUU members joined the labour action.
At the state secretariat, staff members were seen doing skeletal work.
The secretary of the labour union in the state, Hamisu Yanduna, confirmed that the monitoring team of the union had embarked on an enforcement drive.
In Kano, the effect of the strike was palpable as it had grounded socio-economic activities in the ancient city.
Most commercial banks, private and public schools as well as hospitals have shut down their operations.
As early as 8am, labour union officials were seen compelling schools and other organizations to observe the strike.
Staff of Osogbo Region Transmission Company, Osogbo were also observed under a canopy at the entrance to the premises of the company, as they joined the national strike.
Commercial banks across Osogbo did not open to customers.
Armed police operatives were observed at strategic locations across the town as commercial activities progressed unhindered within the state capital.
The same scenario was observed in Kaduna where the labour leaders went around organisations to enforce compliance.
The state secretariat along the ever-busy Independence Way which was opened to workers on Tuesday, was locked by labour officials.
The Secretariat houses many ministries which include the Ministry of Health, Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency, and Ministry for Local Government Affairs, among others.
Organised labour officials also lockdown the Kaduna Geographic Information Service, Office of the Head of Service, Kaduna State Facilities Management Agency, Obasanjo House.
Day two of the strike recorded partial success as the Asaba Airport was still in operation as of Wednesday morning.
All banks visited were shut down but our correspondent observed that customers were stranded and hanging at the gate of the banks with hope of transaction.
Our correspondents, who visited some public schools in Lagos on Wednesday, observed that public schools have joined the ongoing nationwide strike called by the NLC.
A secondary school teacher who craved anonymity said students and teachers were sent home around noon in compliance with the strike directive.
The Lagos State chapter of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria also told our correspondent that the association is part of the ongoing industrial action.
The President of the association at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Taofiq Adele, while responding to an inquiry by our correspondent, said, “Yes, we joined yesterday (Tuesday).”
Our correspondent also observed that the offices of Ikeja Electric around Ikorodu, where he visited, were closed to business.
Ezeh added that the task force also chased out the interface Distribution Substation Officers and shut down the stations.
He added that the action resulted in the loss of supply from the New Haven, Abakaliki, Ugwuaji, Oji River, Agu Awka, Nibo, Ohiya, and Awada TCN stations, which serve some states in the South-East region.
The EEDC is the distribution company that serves the South-East states of Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia, and Ebonyi, with electricity.
The statement read, “This action resulted in the loss of supply from the New Haven, Abakaliki, Ugwuaji, Oji River, Agu Awka, Nibo, Ohiya, and Awada TCN stations.
“Consequently, the entire Enugu, Ebonyi, and Anambra states and Umuahia District in Abia State are without electricity supply. Currently, Nru TCN Station, Nsukka, fed from Otukpo axis is the only station still with electricity supply in our entire network.’’
The strike also paralysed activities in Ogun State.
Schools and hospitals remained shut while only a few workers were sighted at the state secretariat, Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan.
On Wednesday, the labour leaders in Kwara State Council picketed some establishments that had yet to comply with the directive of the national body.
As the strike entered its second day on Wednesday, public schools, government offices, and law courts, among others, remained shut in Ilorin, the state capital.
Some private educational institutions and commercial banks, however, opened for business even as the strike paralyzed socio-economic activities
It was also observed that some banks offered skeletal services to their customers early on Wednesday.
State NLC Chairman, Saheed Olayinka, said, “Although the available report on the strike is a success story, however, in places where there is no compliance, we try to force them out.”
The nationwide strike recorded more compliance in Rivers State on Wednesday.
The Judiciary complex, comprising the State High Court, Court of Appeal and other courts was shut, as workers and litigants were stranded.
The statement revealed that ASUU’s involvement would endanger the university system calendar, which had already witnessed several strike actions.