NLC, TUC Give Emefiele, CBN Two-Week Ultimatum To Make Cash Available To Nigerians

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have pended the planned strike earlier slated for Wednesday (today) to protest the scarcity of naira notes, by giving commercial banks two weeks grace before deciding the next line of action after monitoring the cash availability.

Recall the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governed by Godwin Emefiele, had on Friday last week directed commercial banks to open for operation on Saturday and Sunday, as part of effort to ease the circulation of old and new banknotes.

This came after the CBN began the release of billions of old naira notes to DMBs after finally obeying the Supreme Court on the controversial legal status of the old naira notes.

Joe Ajaero, president of NLC, as well as Festus Osifo of TUC, 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.

“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.

READ ALSO: Naira Scarcity: NLC Declares Nationwide Strike, Directs Workers To Shut Down CBN Offices Nationwide

“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 Even those who have withdrawn N10, 000 are afraid to bring it out in case the scarcity returns.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,” Ajaero said.

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

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