FG Terms Labour Meeting Fruitful As Unions Outline Six Conditions Before Suspending Strike

The Federal Government says its Wednesday’s meeting with the national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over the ongoing strike, yielded good result.

The meeting came on the heels of the nationwide strike declared by the Organized Labour over the brutalization of NLC’s President, Joe Ajaero in Owerri, Imo State on November 1.

Information Nigeria reports that the emergency meeting took place at the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu with other government team, along side the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Bako Lalong.

TUC’s President, Festus Osifo who spoke after the meeting noted that the delegation will take every discussion they had with the government back to their members before a decision can be taken on whether the strike should be called off or not.

He said, “We came here for a discussion. The NSA invited us in furtherance of a press release he issued disclosing that some persons have been arrested in connection with the brutality meted out to the NLC President. At the end of the day, he made several promises of what they were going to do and several appeals for the strike to be called off.

“We had a robust conversation and we told him our side of the issue. The strike was caused by something and the strike is a symptom of the problem. Every conversation we have had, we are taking it back to our organs.

“The NSA promised to coordinate all the steps and issues involved. We will go back, and reappraise the conversations we have had, with all the assurances they have given us, before coming out with a decision.

Also, Lalong who disclosed that Unions and government representatives had very fruitful, genuine and frank discussions of the issues involved, said, “it is an ongoing discussion.”

READ ALSO: Your ‘Villa’ Information Is Insufficient, Ajaero Didn’t Visit Imo For Politics — TUC Replies Oshiomhole

“The meeting was in respect to what happened especially in Imo State and this meeting has heavy security considerations that is why we took the meeting at the office of the National Security Adviser.

“All the labour leaders were also here with us. We had a very fruitful discussion. They have also agreed to take it back home to their constituencies so that they can suspend the strike.

“We have not received any commitment on when the strike will be called off. We have appealed to them. We don’t expect the strike to take a long time.”

Nonetheless, the Union listed six conditions that must be met before suspending the action.

The conditions include the arrest and prosecution of Chinasa Nwaneri, a Special Adviser to Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma on Special Duties who allegedly led the attack on the NLC’s President, Joe Ajaero and other workers in the state.

It also said all police officers as well as thugs involved in the attack on the labour leader should be arrested, prosecuted and dismissed.

Other demands include the arrest, prosecution and dismissal of the Chief Security Officer in Imo State Government House, identified as SP Shaba.

“He led, participated and provided cover for thugs to brutalise workers in Imo State,” the NLC alleged.

The labour union also demanded the arrest, prosecution, and dismissal of an unnamed police area commander who, it claimed, oversaw the brutalization of Ajaero and other workers in the state.

The final condition is that Ahmed Barde, the former Commissioner of Police in Imo State, be investigated and prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the assault on the NLC boss.

“Our demands are simple. We want justice” the union declared.

READ ALSO: “We’ve Arrested Ajaero’s Attackers” – NSA Begs Labour To Call Off Strike

Meanwhile, in a statement, NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs , Benson Upah, faulted the claims in some quarters that the brutality meted out to Comrade Ajaero was a result of a private misunderstanding between him (Ajaero) and the Imo government.

The statement read: “We would want Nigerians to not lend themselves to the “private matter” narrative being promoted by agents of government as it is intended to divert attention from the real issues.

“Even as no freedom can be greater than the personal liberty of an individual in a popular democracy, which was violently and viciously violated in Imo, what the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria are fighting through this strike action are serial acts of violence/assault and impunity committed against individuals and organisations by the Nigeria Police Force or under their watchful eye or supervision.

“We make haste to cite three instances here even as there are several others within the brief life of this government.

“We recall the despicable role of the police in the forceful seizure of the offices of NURTW, RTEAN and NUPENG.

“This strike among other things, is a protest against this reprehensible impunity which is fast becoming the signature of this government.

“The arrest, beating and torture of Comrade Joe Ajaero represents the raising of the stakes in this culture of harassment and intimidation and we have no apology for resisting this through a strike.

“For those not in the know, tyranny begins with the loss of personal liberty through the negative deployment of state power through its agents.

“Critics of labour unions forget that they could be the next victims tomorrow.

“Finally, we demand that the government of President Bola Tinubu nip in the bud this burgeoning culture of harassment, intimidation, violence and terror!

“We will not back down until we secure a commitment from the government to govern by the prescribed laws of the land.

“We are clear about our objectives and we do not need approval ratings from agents of government passing themselves off as our friends.

“The gradual closing of democratic space is a clear and present danger or tendency we can ill afford to ignore.”