The NLC expresses concern over the rising insecurity

On Sunday, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) expressed its concerns about the escalating insecurity, delays in the implementation of wages by certain states, and the prevailing economic hardships in 2023.

In a New Year message titled “2024 can be better if…,” NLC President Joe Ajaero highlighted the failure of the government to fulfill promises, particularly regarding the agreed-upon N35,000 national minimum wage.

Ajaero acknowledged that the past year brought uncertainties and challenges for Nigerians, who faced obstacles and moments that might have left them disheartened.

“In 2023, we witnessed two major agreements signed between the federal government and NLC and TUC. The June 5th and October 2nd Agreements. Whether these have been faithfully implemented or not is open for every discerning Nigerian to see,” Ajaero remarked.

He emphasized the NLC’s patience with the government, despite accusations of being settled by the government. Ajaero noted the burden of leadership carried by the NLC to ensure that the right actions yield the expected results, safeguarding the nation’s unity and preventing opportunists from undermining it.

Throughout these challenges, Ajaero criticized the government for its unfaithfulness in honoring agreements, citing the non-implementation of the N35,000 Wage Award, the delayed launch of the Port Harcourt refinery, the non-inauguration of the National Minimum Wage Negotiation Council, and distortions in the CNG to favor a few.

This year, divisions along our historical fault lines, instead of healing, have intensified, primarily due to the regrettable actions of politicians who exploited them for electoral gains. Consequently, our nation is more fragmented than ever, marked by growing suspicion and widening trust deficits along these fault lines.

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Citizens’ confidence in the government has been severely eroded, leading to a deeper disconnect between the people and the authorities. Government policies are perceived to neglect the welfare of citizens, with only sporadic instances of progress in governance observed in certain states. The instruments of governance appear to be wielded primarily for the exclusive benefit of those who believe they control them.

In 2023, we’ve witnessed a troubling rise in violence and propaganda as tools of engagement in the nation’s industrial relations sphere. The distinction between the tactics employed in electioneering and actual governance seems blurred, as the same violence and crudity witnessed during elections are now being used by the government to manage workplace relations in Nigeria. Government interference in the internal affairs of trade unions has been noted, aiming to gain control of these unions and utilize them to stifle civic engagement and impede citizens’ efforts to hold the government accountable.

The Congress also expressed concern about the recent attack on the President of the Congress and the halting of the wage award implementation, as agreed upon in the October 2nd MOU between the federal government and Organized Labour.

The coincidence of these events is viewed as ominous, raising questions about possible high-level conspiracies to perpetrate violence against trade union leaders, including the President of Congress in Owerri. The Congress asserted that the Imo state Government, under Hope Uzodimma, continues to be a hotspot for the abuse and violation of workers’ rights and interests, citing outstanding salary arrears, gratuities, and pension delays. The NLC secretariat, vandalized and stripped by the state government, remains desolate, and the recent re-insertion of names into the payroll raises concerns about attempts to conceal financial discrepancies while leaving workers unpaid.

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The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) lamented the escalating divisions in the country, exacerbated by politicians exploiting primordial fault lines for electoral gains. The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, condemned the government’s use of violence and propaganda in industrial relations, noting the brutal attack on trade union leaders and the stoppage of wage awards. Ajaero criticized the government’s economic policies, highlighting the hardships faced by workers and the masses, including cash scarcity, rising costs, and reckless borrowing.

He expressed concern over the wanton destruction of lives and properties and accused leaders of insensitivity to the security challenges. Despite these challenges, the NLC pledged commitment to workers’ welfare and promised to advocate for a living wage and improved working conditions in the coming year.

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