Nationwide Protest: Labour Unions to March on Thursday

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Labour unions comprising of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have announced plans to hold a national protest on Thursday, in demand for good governance and improved economy.

The protest tagged; ‘National day of action against corruption and for good governance’ will hold in Abuja and Lagos respectively, on February 9 and will be marked with marches, rallies and submission of petition containing a list of demands to the government.

At a news conference in Abuja on Monday, president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, said the mass action, which was initially slated for Tuesday, but was shifted would be done in collaboration with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as part of the initiatives to make the mass action a successful one.

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The series of mass actions will be against states that are owing workers’ salaries, pensions and gratuities in the country. Mr. Wabba said the action had become necessary to demonstrate the anger of the workers over the insensitive dispositions of the affected states. In his words:

“Workers and Nigerians will gather as early as 7am at the Unity Fountain, Abuja from where the protest will head to the Federal Secretariat, the National Assembly and to the Presidency.

“The union would take the protest to state level after the national rally as every Nigerian has the right to protest. The protest is necessitated by the need for good governance in the face of recession and free for all multiple exchange rate regime, which has very negative effect on manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.”

According to the NLC President, the affected states, apart from receiving several bailout grants from the Federal Government, also got substantial funds from the Paris Club refunds, yet some of them are not making efforts to ensure that workers interest is given the priority it deserved.

He pointed out that gratuity in most of the states are also building up, with liability of gratuity ranging between seven months and some 77 months. He said some states receive less but they do not have liability of salaries and pensions while some receive much but have accumulated liabilities.

According to Mr. Wabba, Imo state has the worst-case scenario with a liability of gratuity of 77 months with pensions.

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He said the Imo government had contemplated paying the pensioners 60 percent of their 77 months’ pension arrears which the pensioners had rejected. Hear him:

“We must canvass for good governance and fight against corruption because some state governments are not doing the needful as it concerns workers.

“The Nigeria’s Labour Movement has been contemplating on how to move against those states owing workers and pensioners.

“This portrays a lot of danger and challenges basically because, in some of those states, they do not look at the issue of workers’ salaries, among others as a priority.

“So, the whole essence of the rally for good governance is to see that our political elite get their priority right. It is in this context that the NLC and the TUC are going to undertake a second round of campaign for good governance and the fight against corruption.

“We realize from the data we have that it is not about how much those states earn, but it is about how transparent the process is in those states, because the rally was also a quest for the new minimum wage for workers in the country.”