Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Northern leaders have urged officials of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) not to allow themselves be used by anti-democratic forces in the country to truncate the nation’s hard-earned democracy, if they embark on an industrial action in about 40 days to the 2019 general elections.
The warning by the leaders of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) came on the heels of threats by the NLC to go on an indefinite strike, after exhausting all avenues of ensuring that the Federal Government endorses the 30,000 naira minimum wage pay package to workers.
While expressing sadness over the decision by NLC to embark on an industrial action at the verge of the 2019 general elections in a statement by the ACF National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Mohammad Ibrahim Biu, the Forum said Saturday, that “The ACF has nothing but sympathy and goodwill towards all Nigerian workers, who continue to toil in an increasingly difficult economic environment.
“We also support whatever they or their unions legitimately do to improve on their welfare. However, ACF wishes to draw the attention of the labor and trade union organizations to the fact that the public is getting extremely alarmed by the risky method they have chosen to fight for the welfare of their members.
“It will be recalled that ASUU, ASUP and other unions in our tertiary institutions have been on ‘total, comprehensive and indefinite’ strike almost 100 days to our general elections. And now, about 40 days to the elections, the Nigeria Labor Congress, NLC, is threatening not only to call its members out on a ‘total and prolonged’ strike but to ‘mobilize’ them to paralyze the country.”
According to the northern leaders, “The ACF is very much worried and concerned with this threat to industrial peace and harmony, and hereby appeals to the leadership of NLC and other trade unions to place the interest of the country above all other considerations.”
Said Biu: “Workers’ welfare can only be improved, if the country is working, and the general elections that is at the heart of our democracy allowed to take place in a peaceful environment. We cannot afford to truncate our hard-earned democracy at this material time when all hands are expected to be on deck to move the country forward.
“We therefore urge the labor leaders to remain patriots and prevail on their members to suspend the proposed total strike and, for ASUU and ASUP, we appeal to them to call off the strike and return to the negotiation table.
“ACF urges all interested parties to note that the issue of minimum wage transcends all sectors of the economy; hence, the need for workers in both public, private sectors and governments to come together and agree on what the economy can accommodate, after which a bill to that effect can be transmuted to the National Assembly forthwith.
“We already have so many challenges in the polity, economy and security, which require collective efforts to restore our faith in both our democracy and the country. We therefore appeal for understanding and call on all parties to shift grounds,” the statement stressed.