Labour shelves strike, gives CBN fresh two-week ultimatum

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have suspended their planned strike earlier slated for Wednesday to protest the scarcity of naira notes.

The two unions said they would monitor the availability of cash in commercial banks for two weeks before deciding on the next line of action.

Presidents of NLC, Joe Ajaero and TUC, Festus Osifo, said this during a joint press conference on Tuesday in Abuja at the end of their National Executive Council meetings.

Ajaero said after receiving briefings from the union’s state councils in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, the NLC decided to defer the planned stay-at-home directive issued to workers last week

Ajaero said. “Yes, there has been compliance but the NLC, after its NEC meeting, doubted the sustainability of the compliance.

“We have to monitor this compliance for the next two weeks to see whether it is sustainable because they have rushed to move money to commercial banks and some of them are getting empty again.

“It will be very naive for the congress to hurriedly call off the action. Whereas we are not shutting down tomorrow, we will want to loosen up for another two weeks with committees set up at the national level and all the states of the federation to coordinate compliance.

“There are some banks that didn’t open at the weekend. We advise the CBN to play the role of the regulator. They can sanction banks that are not complying. The first and second day, the CBN said the money they were pushing per week they were pushing it daily; I wouldn’t know if they are still pushing it daily.

“They have constrained the banking sector. Nigerians have suffered so much. Even those who have withdrawn N10, 000 are afraid to bring it out in case the scarcity returns.

“The NLC and TUC have decided to allow tomorrow pass without any shutdown or picketing but to watch the next two weeks.”

The TUC president gave assurance  that the union would continue to protect the interest of workers and Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, assured Nigerians that the Federal Government had averted the nationwide strike planned the NLC and the TUC.

Ngige, who said this at the 68th session of the State House Ministerial Briefing, said his ministry coordinated negotiations between the unions and the CBN to avert the strike.

He said, “There’s already a dialogue going on and there’s also implementation and the Nigerian Labour Congress agreed that there was some thawing at the surface of the icing that was there.

“By Section 7(8) of Trade Dispute Act, once the minister apprehends and starts conciliation on it, you maintain status quo ante bellum. So they have gone back now to review the situation. If they’re not satisfied with what they’re seeing, they will come back to me and I’ll invite the CBN again.”