• Gives FG 2 weeks ultimatum
By Bimbola Oyesola
United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) yesterday gave the Federal Government two weeks to improve the plight of workers, otherwise it will shut down the economy.
The ULC, among other things, lamented the poor remuneration for workers and failure of government to inaugurate committee for the negotiation of the new minimum wage, abuse and exploitation of Nigerian workers.
President of the ULC, Joe Ajaero, while addressing the media after the meeting of the Central Working Committee, warned the federal government not to dare ULC as it would shut down key sectors of the economy.
“We don’t need to over stretch that ULC has power to shut down the country. So, if government fails to meet our demands in two weeks from now, there would be no electricity, no fuel, banks will not open, shops will be shut, the rail system will be down. We may not block the roads, but the whole country will get the feeling when we start,” he said.
Ajaero said the ULC after exhaustive and critical analysis was worried that Nigerian workers and masses have become increasingly abandoned to their fate by an unconscionable ruling elite.
He said: “The union also observed with deep angst that despite collecting huge bail-out funds from the federal government and the Paris club debt refund, many state governors have refused to pay workers’ salaries.
“We view this as fraudulent. You cannot use the name of Nigerian workers to collect money and then divert it to other uses; that is obtaining by tricks and is punishable under Code 419 of the law of the federation.”
He said the CWC-in-session, therefore, called for the immediate payment of all the arrears of salaries owed Nigerian workers at all levels without exception.
The ULC also called for the repair of roads leading to all the petroleum refineries and depots nation-wide to curb the carnage of lives, wastage of products and properties of the roads.
Part of the ULC resolutions, he noted was that government should honour its 2009 agreement with university lecturers under the umbrella of ASUU so that the universities can re-open.
The labour union also alleged that the proposed Bill at the National Assembly seeking to control free speech was couched under the guise of bill against hate speech, but has the real intention of protecting the ruling elite from being held accountable by the citizenry. “We, therefore, demand the discontinuance of that obnoxious bill.”
The union further condemned the withholding of registration certificate of the ULC and demanded its release, forthwith, “so the nation’s industrial relations’ clime will be made more inclusive and robust.”
It also demanded immediate inclusion of all representatives of labour in the various committees, agencies and directorates of government, and not singling out just one centre for these purposes, thereby, negating the tenets of the nation’s laws.
“Any of such appointments which has been done contrary to this, we demand an immediate reversal.
We also demand immediate inauguration of the national minimum wage committee in line with the above, so it can commence sitting.
“If these demands are not met within two weeks from today, the ULC shall embark on industrial action that would force government to correct itself and respect the interests of workers and the citizenry. The ULC, once again, pledges its commitment and loyalty to Nigeria, its workers and peoples,” he added.