The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have begun the nationwide strike they first announced a week ago, 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 comes on the heels of the physical assault NLC National President Joe 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.
In spite of the court order, the unions, in a statement on Monday, directed workers nationwide to withdraw their services at midnight.
“In furtherance to the decision of the Joint National Executive Council (NEC) of NLC and TUC, all workers in Nigeria are hereby directed to withdraw their services effective 12:00 midnight today, 13th November 2023,” the unions said in a joint statement.
“Consequently, all affiliates and state councils of NLC/TUC are directed to issue circulars for maximum compliance and these circulars be made available to the National Secretariats or posted to the NEC and CWC Whatsapp Platforms.”
While assuring members of further updates about the nationwide strike, organised labour urged them to “remain assured of our commitment to Nigerian workers and people”.
The NLC chief was assaulted in the state with the union accusing Imo state of arranging the attack to stifle protests over workers’ rights. Ajaero was badly hurt, bundled into a van and briefly detained, according to the union.
Following the incident, NLC and TUC threatened to go on a nationwide strike on November 14 if the government failed to meet its demands, which included the resignation of police officials.
“We are worried that it has become criminal for workers in Nigeria to gather for a peaceful protest,” they said.
Last week, the unions picketed the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja to press home their demands, leaving travellers stranded.
Recent strikes have had a mixed turnout. Last month the unions agreed to call off a planned strike in protest over rising living costs after the government offered a package of measures to cushion the impact of its economic reforms.