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Federal workers’ union backs NLC on nationwide strike

A strike by federal civil service workers could disrupt public services across the country.

• September 26, 2020
Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC)
Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) used to illustrate the story

The Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) supports NLC’s strike proposed to be held nationwide from this Monday.

NCSU’s general secretary Yahaya Idris Ndako told the Peoples Gazette the union is committed to NLC’s plan “from top to bottom”.

NCSU comprises workers in the federal civil service.

The Buhari government has been trying to halt the proposed strike. Attorney-General Abubakar Malami initiated litigation at the national industrial court in Abuja last week, and the court ordered labour to suspend its proposed strike.  

Mr. Ndako described the court’s order as “black market court injunctions”. He said members of his unions and other workers under the NLC have a constitutional right to protest, and that this strike will be for exercising that constitutional right.

Nigeria’s constitution guarantees all Nigerians the right to peaceful assembly.

NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are organising a strike to protest against the recent increase in petrol and electricity prices. These two top unions want the price changes reversed.

The NCSU executive told the Peoples Gazette that the strike would be non-violent.

“The only way it can escalate is if the government uses the police or the army,” Mr. Ndako said.

In 2012 the Jonathan government used the army to put down the Occupy Nigeria protests, which featured a nationwide labour strike backed by other civil society groups.

Current president Muhammadu Buhari opposed cutting petrol subsidies at that time, describing it as “nonsense”.

He is quoted to have said, “[Petrol subsidy removal] is nonsense and an attempt by a clique with the PDP-led federal government to siphon the proceeds to be realized from the removal of oil subsidy”.

Now, NLC is again receiving support from major affiliates for its proposed action. Four aviation unions are among those who have declared support.

Mr. Ndako said, “Everybody at the federal level supports the strike action by the NLC.”

A nationwide strike backed by key affiliates could shut down parts of the economy, and federal civil service workers staying away from work could disrupt public services.

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