Strike: TUC accuses NLC of taking unilateral decisions

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The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has disagreed with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the call for a nationwide protest without due consultation.

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The TUC urged the NLC to stop taking unilateral decisions on issues of interest to the two organisations.

In a letter addressed to the President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, TUC said it was wrong for the NLC to declare a two-day national protest without consulting with her after jointly issuing a 14-day ultimatum on the same matter.

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The letter, which was obtained by our reporter, was signed by the Secretary-General of TUC, Nuhu Toro, on February 19.

The 14-day ultimatum issued by both labour centres over the non – implementation of the 16-point Memorandum of Understanding would end on February 22.

The letter reads: “We convey compliments from the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), particularly the President of Congress, Comrade (Engr) Festus Osifo, and write to convey our displeasure on the above subject matter.

“We are writing to address a matter of mutual concern and our disappointment regarding the recent unilateral issuance of two days’ national protest with specified dates.

“You will recall that both centers issued a joint statement with a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government. This ultimatum will expire on Thursday, February 22nd, and the right thing to do was for both leaderships to review the situation and agree on the way forward prior to convening our respective NEC meetings.

“Our respective NEC is made up of highly intelligent individuals, who are desirous that we both work together always in our collective interest, even if we didn’t anticipate our NEC decision meetings, it is our responsibility as leaders to harmonize our positions before jointly going to the press.

“It was our understanding that decisions of such magnitude would be made collectively, ensuring that the interests and perspectives of all parties involved are duly considered.

“This is the way other leaders of both centers have worked together from the time of SECSCAN to when TUC was formally registered. It is important to stress that this is the third time such a unilateral declaration is happening under your leadership. We are therefore constrained to formally put this on record as various discussions, communications, and interventions have failed. A first and second time could pass as human error, but a third time would, in our opinion, translate to an intentional act to undermine us.

“Again, recall that we requested that both congresses jointly develop an MOU that will clearly guide and define our collaboration on issues of mutual interest to avoid situations like this, which has not seen the light of day.

“Comrade President, also note that we are not averse to the issuance of your resolution because our members equally feel the pain, even if it’s a weeklong national strike, but we have a huge problem with the unilateral declaration for a process we both muted and agreed, because our members are equally concerned about the rising cost of living and not particularly the ultimatum, why can’t we see through the ultimatum that expires within the same period before jointly addressing other issues of mutual concern or at worst consolidate them?

“At best, when the NLC conveyed its NEC meeting on the subject of mutual concern, courtesy demands that we ought to have been informed so we can synergise on the way forward and not jump the gun.

“We cannot be seen to undermine the process of synergy and collaboration between both centers that predates the current leadership of both congresses.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we fully understand that NLC is an independent labour center that has the right to take independent decisions, it is pertinent that when such decisions are taken unilaterally, there is a need to go ahead and implement them unilaterally.

“We wish to postulate that both centers have demonstrated severally that we both can go solo, but my comrade President, you will agree with the slogan we couched for this unity that “we are always stronger together,” and that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“We want you to always remember that we have teeming members that we lead and are answerable to, and when such an abnormality happens, the leadership has the right to defend the sanctity of its congress.

“Recall that this same issue of unilateral decision, was what made us stay away from the two-day warning strike that you staged in September last year.

“The entire world noticed our collective strength when the governor of Imo State overstepped his bounds, and we rose to the occasion.

“That is the kind of synergy and collaboration that we yearn for and that we strongly believe the Nigerian working people and the downtrodden are looking for from our collaborative efforts to work together.

“As you are aware of our previous discussions that accumulated into a late-night meeting at the NUEE Lodge, Utako last year after the unilateral decision of a two-day warning strike and several other interventions that emphasized the importance of mutual respect, collaboration, and effective communication in matters affecting workers and the masses,.

“Congress was greatly taken aback and dismayed to learn that you addressed the press and announced the dates for the nationwide protest without consulting us. Making arrangements for the press is even an indication that you have an idea of what the outcome of the NEC meeting would be. This action undermines the spirit of solidarity and cooperation that we have worked hard to foster.

“Nonetheless, we wish to state that such unilateral actions are contrary to the principles of our shared understanding and collaboration. To uphold the integrity of our partnership and ensure that the voices of all workers are heard, decisions of this nature must be made through open dialogue and consensus-building.

“We kindly urge you to reconsider your approach and to engage in meaningful consultation with all parties moving forward as we will always do the same when the table turns. By doing so, we can reaffirm our commitment to working together for the betterment of workers’ rights and welfare.”

 

 

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