The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have postponed the indefinite nationwide strike, which reached its second day on Wednesday.
The decision was made at a meeting on Wednesday that deliberated on the conclusion of an earlier engagement with the Federal Government chaired by Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser (NSA).
The TUC President, Festus Osifo confirmed suspension of the strike on Wednesday evening.
According to organised labour, the Ribadu-led gathering promised that those detained for the physical assault on NLC President Joe Ajaero will be prosecuted.
The NSA promised to bring both parties back to the table to iron out all issues in dispute, tendering an unreserved apology on behalf of the Federal Government for the brutalisation Ajaero and other members of the congress.
The meeting which was held at the office of the NLSA with the TUC President, Festus Osifo; the NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, among others, in attendance.
At the end of the meeting which was held behind closed doors, both the labour minister and the TUC President said they had a robust conversation on the issues at stake.
Assault On Ajaero
The strike came on the heels of the physical assault Ajaero was subjected to in Imo State two weeks ago when he and other NLC members were in the South-East state for a demonstration over “non-payment of salaries and pensions for 44 months and violation of other labour rights”.
The protest was viewed in some circles as an attempt to scuttle the re-election bid of Governor Hope Uzodimma in last Saturday’s governorship election.
Following Ajaero’s ordeal, the organised labour called for a nationwide strike beginning today.
However, the National Industrial Court (NIC) restrained them from embarking on the strike action in the wake of the impasse with the Imo State Government.
Last Tuesday, the leadership of the NLC and the TUC declared a total nationwide strike effective one week later (yesterday).
The leadership of the two unions reached the resolution after an extraordinary National Executive Council meeting in Abuja.
The two major labour unions said nationwide mobilisation of members and allies had begun immediately, following Ajaero’s brutalisation the previous week in Imo State.
The incident led to widespread outrage among organised labour, which accused the Commissioner of Police in Imo State, Mohammed Barde, of complicity.
Labour proceeded to hand the Federal Government a five-day ultimatum to replace the police commissioner, while also laying blame at the feet of Governor Hope Uzodimma, who was seeking re-election.
The governor however said he had no hand in the attack on the labour leader.
But the unions demanded the arrest and prosecution of some of the governor’s aides and threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action if their demands were not carried out.
Workers Down Tools
The NLC and TUC began their indefinite nationwide strike on Tuesday with affiliate unions joining the industrial action.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday morning, the NLC shared circulars by the unions, indicating their compliance with the directive.
The unions included the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP).
Others are the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees, the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN), the National Union of Electricity Employees, and the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers.
The strike continued into Wednesday, prompting appeals and interventions by the National Security Adviser, who met with the labour leader in Abuja, and the Senate, among other individuals and organisations.