Fuel Scarcity Looms as ULC Begins Indefinite Strike Monday

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Joe Ajaero - United Labour Congress Chairman and Comrades
Joe Ajaero - United Labour Congress Chairman and Comrades

Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Sunday, said loading of products including aviation fuel would stop from today as affiliates of United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC), begin an indefinite strike.

Also, electricity workers, on the platform of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and National Union of Railway Workers (NURW), have asked members to down tools and join the strike.

However, the leaders of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Employees (NUBIFIE) said members may not effectively join the strike today because the union just concluded its delegates conference weekend, warning however that members would fully join should the strike persist.

In the same vein, leaders of Steel and Engineering Workers of Nigeria (SEWUN), Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSSAN), National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees (NULAE), Nigerian Union of Mine Workers (NUMW), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTCSSAN), Metal Product Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (MPSSAN), Fitters Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (FSSAN), National Union of Shop and Distributive Employees (NUSDE) and Academic Staff Union of Research Institute (ASURI), among others said the members would fully comply with the strike directive by the national leadership of ULC.

Speaking in Lagos State, Tokunbo Korodo, Chairman of ULC and Lagos zonal chairman of NUPENG, said though there were skeletal loading of products weekend, “from today, there will be total shut down of all loading activities by members. What that means is that we are not loading products across the country including aviation fuel from today until there is counter directive from the national leaders of our umbrella body, the ULC.”

Similarly, Ocheme Aba, General-Secretary of NAAPE, said members would fully comply with the strike, noting “this strike will be handled strategically. We are not going to confront anybody, but I can assure you that you will definitely feel the impact of the action.”

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In the same vein, Delta State Council of ULC, has directed all affiliates in Delta to immediately commence total withdrawal of services from today in compliance with the resolutions of national leadership of the Labour Centre.

 

Comrade Williams Akporeha, Chairman of the council, said “We are not deterred but only very worried to hear this sort of comment from respected government officials who allowed undemocratic forces to currupt and crippled the NLC.

On behalf of the national leadership of Congress, all our members in Delta state are hereby directed to proceed on an indefinite industrial action with immediate effect without fear of intimidation and harassment. We shall continue to monitor compliance and effectiveness until the Federal government meet our demands already sent to the appropriate agents of government.”

He appealed to the public to support and show utmost understanding to ULC in its struggle to draw the attention of government to honour agreements with workers and fulfill its obligations to the masses.

While dismissing the comments, Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, said ULC has not been registered and therefore it is an illegal body.

Joe Ajaero, President of ULC, contended that “ULC does not have any intentions of joining issues seriously with the Minister or any other person, but the only thing we can tell them is that he should wait till when the strike commences for action speaks louder than words.

He (the Minister) has unfortunately not realised that we have to save him and his Ministry which he has allowed to be rubbished by interest groups averse to honest engagements in the sector and the freedom of Nigerian workers by this action “We are sure that the Minister must have been misquoted but given the preponderance of lying as a tool for governance in Nigeria, we are not surprised. Let it be placed on record that the Laws of our Land – the Constitution and the Trade Union Act are on our side and fortunately, Ngige holds no judicial powers which he feigns to wield and cannot pontificate on the legality of ULC.

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“He cannot be the person saying this because he knows what the Law says on this and which has been attested to both morally, practice and in deeds. Nigerians should remember that TUC operated without certificate for 27 years and that was within the ambits of the law and Ngige knows this unless he is saying this tongue-in-cheek. If a Minister can show this level of ignorance then, Nigeria is truly in trouble. We therefore pronounce his comments as not only unfortunate but ILLEGAL and should be ignored by all Nigerians.

“This strike on Monday must therefore go on no matter their shenanigans. We must join our hands to make it compelling! Don’t allow the ATMs to work, let the Banks be closed and let us demonstrate the collective strength of Nigerian workers. Let us show once and for all that we can neither be intimidated nor purchased! Let us show them that it is only by meeting our demands that we can back down.”

It will be recalled that the leadership of the ULC had earlier issued a 14-day and a 7-day notice to the Federal Government over an 11-point demand, threatening a nationwide strike if government fails to address their demands.