APFFLON URGES LABOUR UNIONS TO SUSPEND STRIKE
By Mcanthony Onuoha
Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria- APFFLON has asked the Nigeria Labour Union(NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to suspend plans to embark on nationwide strike.
The Labour Unions had directed their members nationwide to embark on industrial action which commenced yesterday being Wednesday, the 3rd of August, 2023, to protest against what it describes as ” anti- poor policies of government” including the hike in the pump price of petroleum, school fees, VAT, among others.
APFFLON NATIONAL PRESIDENT, OTUNBA FRANK OGUNOJEMITE
After a crucial meeting with the Federal Government, the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero disclosed that the essence of the meeting was to draw government’s attention to the demands of the people and workers of Nigeria.
APFFLON in a press release signed by its National President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite and made available to the media, called on the Labour Unions to suspend the planned strike in the interest of the nation.
According to Ogunojemite, ” the planned strike will worsen the present economic realities as individual businesses will be grounded, people are passing through very tough time but l would want the labour unions to give Bola Ahmed Tinubu led administration that benefit of doubt and watch if it would not expedite actions towards ameliorating the sufferings of Nigerians. We want to see actions marched with words, obviously, Nigerians have lost confidence in their leaders because of their insincerity, greed and sheer lack of will power to do the right things.”
(MIDDLE ) NLC PRESIDENT, JOE AJAERO
” We are not against Labour protesting against anti- people policies of the government but we are concerned about its attendant effect on the masses, especially those who get their daily bread by going out to shed their wares or engage in menial jobs on daily basis. The skyrocketing prices of commodities and continuous emasculation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is a big threat to the livelihoods of many families . But if we should look into who and who are affected by the strike action by Labour, it will not be out of place to point out that those who are not in the employ of governments are coopted to join the strike, these are a section of Nigerians who do not get any form of support from the governments apart from the purported subsidy on petrol which we were meant to believe inflated the annual budgets appropriated by past administrations.”
” For instance, in the Maritime and Aviation sectors, delay in clearance of cargoes attract penalties in form of demurrage, and APFFLON is forced to ask, of what assistance has the NLC been to freight forwarders or importers ?”
” It is instructive to note that NLC has never invited freight forwarders to know some of the challenges they face at the ports on daily basis so why should their decisions affect all the sectors of the economy. I would want to remind them of the need to always engage other sectors before taking decisions that affect all and sundry.”
On Wednesday ( yesterday), a message that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had backed down on the nationwide protest over the hike in the pump price of petrol was being circulated on social media before it was quickly debunked by Labour as it described the reports suggesting otherwise as “the handiwork of fifth columnists”.
Meanwhile, APFFLON in the press release, pleaded with Labour to reconsider its stance in the interest of the masses. According to advocacy group, “we are all Nigerians and all of us are in this together, no one is buying food items cheaper than the other, prices of commodities are going up on daily basis which elicits missed feelings and gives credence to the planned strike action, but it is not the right way to handle the situation as President, Tinubu’s administration requires to be given a little more time to put things in their rightful places. We have listened to the President reel out measures to cushion the effects of subsidy removal, and inasmuch as we acknowledge the fact that people are going through excruciating hardships occassioned by governments failure to put adequate palliative measures in place prior to the removal of fuel subsidy and given that it was hurriedly planned and hastily implemented, we urge Labour to collaborate with the Federal Government and ensure that the palliative measures being put in place are not wrongly distributed.”
” We also call on the Federal Government to slash the salaries and allowances of political office holders. The cost of governance in Nigeria has become outrageously high and continuing in that trajectory and expecting different results amounts to self deceit. We need members of the Executive and the Legislature to lead by example, they should be patriotic enough to sacrifice part of their salaries and allowances to ameliorate the sufferings of those that elected them into office. They should stop playing the ostrich, they know the root cause of our economic woes and also know the sacrifices to make to salvage the situation, but they keep playing to the gallery, pretending not to know because of their selfishness and unpatriotism. We insist that the Federal Government cuts down on cost of governance and be patriotic enough to address unnecessary waste of public funds.”
“We want to believe that the Federal Government’s claim that it is currently working with the labour unions on a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers is not a hogwash.”
Prior to the commencement of the industrial action yesterday (Wednesday), the labour unions had earlier complained of the Federal Government’s unreadiness to address a plethora of issues tabled before it by their leaderships. According to the President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, ” the outcome of this meeting earlier today (Tuesday) has however not changed anything or the course which we have set for ourselves tomorrow(Wednesday) as custodians of the interest and desires of Nigerian workers and people”.
The National President of APFFLON, appealed to the leadership of the labour unions to show understanding at this trying time and not allow the masses suffer more hardships , he advised the Federal Government to expedite plans to put palliative measures in place to enable the masses cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal .
According to Ogunojemite, “APFFLON appreciates the leadership of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria- MWUN for approaching the industrial action from a different perspective, the country belongs to all of us and we appeal to both NLC and TUC to sincerely use their discretion before taking decisions.”