Home Economy NLC, TUC shut down National Grid, airports, banks, state, federal ministries

NLC, TUC shut down National Grid, airports, banks, state, federal ministries

by Business News Report

Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have made good their threat by embarking on nationwide strike paralysing the economy. In compliance with the joint directive of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to down tools on Monday over the new minimum wage, electricity workers have shut down the National Grid, resulting in nationwide blackout. This was disclosed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Ndidi Mbah. TCN said workers were driven away from their duty posts while others were beaten and wounded at some power facilities. It added that all its efforts at grid recovery were being frustrated by the unionists.“The Transmission Company of Nigeria hereby informs the general public that the Labour Union has shut down the national grid, resulting in black out nationwide. The national grid shut down occurred at about 2.19am this morning, 3rd June 2024. At about 1:15am this morning, the Benin Transmission Operator under the Independent System Operations unit of TCN reported that all operators were driven away from the control room and that staff that resisted were beaten while some were wounded in the course of forcing them out of the control room and without any form of control or supervision, the Benin Area Control Center was brought to zero.

“Other transmission substations that were shut down, by the Labour Union include the Ganmo, Benin, Ayede, Olorunsogo, Akangba and Osogbo Transmission Substations. Some transmission lines were equally opened due to the ongoing activities of the labour union. On the power generating side, power generating units from different generating stations were forced to shut down some units of their generating plants, the Jebba Generating Station was forced to shut down one of its generating units while three others in the same substation subsequently shut down on very high frequency. The sudden forced load  cuts led to high frequency and system instability, which eventually shut down the national grid at 2:19am. “At about 3.23am, however, TCN commenced grid recovery, using the Shiroro Substation to attempt to feed the transmission lines supplying bulk electricity to the Katampe Transmission Substation. The situation is such that the labour Union is still obstructing grid recovery nationwide. “We will continue to make effort to recover and stabilize the grid to enable the restoration of normal bulk transmission of electricity to distribution load centres nationwide,” TCN stated Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Rivers State said activities at the International Airport, Omagwa, Port Harcourt, have been totally shutdown on the first day of the commencement of the indefinite strike action. This was as the State and federal Ministries in the state, departments, agencies and parastatal of government could not open for operations in the state.

NLC said it has ensured total compliance in the state following the directive from its national body on the ongoing industrial action against the Federal Government. The Chairman of NLC in the State, Comrade Alex Agwanwor, in Port Harcourt, said its strike enforcement team moved round the state to ensure that all agencies of government, ministries, departments, parastatal and banks complied to the directive. Agwanwor stated that the NLC in the state would stand with its national body and ensure that the directives handed are obeyed and implemented to the latter. He state that the state at the moment was getting total compliance, confirming that operations at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, was shut down. The NLC chairman said: “For now, we are getting total compliance in the state. We have not had any disobedience any where. Our monitoring team moved around and confirmed that everything was in order. “Tomorrow, will still move round. The places we did not touch today, we will get tomorrow. We don’t not have plans to pull out of the  Airport was shut down today. There was not operations there. Port Harcourt Airport did not work today. No flight took off from Port Harcourt today.”

In Lagos Public schools, Federal Inland Revenue office, Muritala Mohammed local and International Airports were grounded as well as other critical services. However, though the Nigeria Labour Congress,  NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, called out their members on a nationwide strike, the conduct of the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, WASSCE, by the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, went smoothly on Monday. Candidates who were to write French Language were able to do so without any hitch despite the strike by members of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT. Speaking on the development in a chat with Vanguard, the Public Relations Officer of WAEC, Moyo Adesina, expressed gladness that the candidates were able to write their papers unhindered. Yes, we are happy that the candidates were able to write French Language and one other papers today without any hindrance despite the strike called by the labour leadership, ” she said. This is just as the members of the Congress of University Academics, CONUA, have been directed to join the nationwide industrial action by the leadership of the union. In a statement by National President, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, said, “The national leadership has been meeting and contacting the TUC since yesterday on the strike action declared by the NLC/TUC on the minimum wage. We would like our members to know that this is a strike action declared by the two labour centres, one of which our Union is affiliated with.  CONUA is hereby identifying with this decision of the TUC.  “The national leadership regrets the delay in communicating this position to our teeming members. It was due to the “in-house” clearing procedure.” Meanwhile, students in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State were on Monday disappointed as they got to their school premises to find their teachers unavailable. Speaking on the development, Lagos State Chairman of the NUT, Comrade Hassan Akintoye, said the teachers had no choice other than to join the strike. Our members are part of the strike. We are affiliated to the NLC and whatever decision is eventually taken is binding on us too. The students would also understand that the struggle for the benefit of all, ” he said. It is the same story in other states. 

In Bayelsa government and other public activities were grounded in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital as workers across all sectors of the economy joined the nationwide NLC, TUC new minimum wage industrial action declared by Organised labour. As early as 8am in the morning, some labour officials stormed the state secretariat complex, Ovom, to lock the gate and turn back some uninformed workers who went to work. Though public schools were shut, students writing the West African Examination Council, WAEC, examination were not affected as they went ahead without any interference, it was however observed that some private schools were in session across Yenagoa just as several others were on mid term break. While the strike recorded total compliance in the banking sector, leaving several customers stranded, the various markets in Yenagoa were opened for business. There is also the presence of security operatives led by the Nigeria Police Force and men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps around the State Secretariat Complex. NLC and TUC leaders and officials of affiliate labour leaders were stationed in key government offices, establishments and parastatals to enforce full compliance. However, the state TUC chairman, Comrade Julius Laye who spoke to newsmen in Yenagoa expressed delight over what he described as total compliance in the state. He said “the compliance level is total here. If you go to the Nigerian Content and Development Monitoring Board, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Secretariat and State Secretariat they were under lock and key.  The banks are also complying with the strike directive.”

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, reacting to the strike  faulted the June 3, 2024 notice of industrial action issued by the Organised LabourFederal government said declares Labour’s June 3 strike illegal. In a letter dated June 1, 2024, the AGF described the strike notice by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as “premature, ineffectual and illegal”. The AGF addressed the letter to the NLC President Joe Ajaero and his TUC counterpart Festus Osifo. The labour unions had said the current minimum wage of ₦30,000 can no longer cater to the wellbeing of an average Nigerian worker, lamenting that not all governors are paying the current wage award which expired in April 2024, five years after the Minimum Wage Act of 2019 was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The Act should be reviewed every five years to meet up with contemporary economic demands of workers. Labour later handed the Federal Government a May 31 deadline for the a new minimum wage. On May 31, the workers’ organs in the country declared a nationwide strike beginning from Monday, June 3, 2024 over the government committee’s inability to agree on a new minimum wage and reversal of electricity tariff hike. During the failed talks with the government, Labour rejected three government’s offers, the latest being N60,000. Both the TUC and the NLC subsequently pulled out of negotiations, insisting on ₦497,000 as the new minimum wage. However, the AGF urged Labour to return to the negotiation table, saying that dialogue was a more progressive path to take than industrial action.

Fagbemi drew the attention of the aggrieved unions to Sections 41(1) and 42(1) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004 (As amended) which required the NLC and the TUC to issue mandatory strike notices of a minimum of 15 days. The AGF also recalled an interrim injunctive order granted on June 5, 2023 by an Abuja court which restrained the NLC and the TUC from embarking on any industrial action.  “This order has neither been stayed or set-aside, therefore it remains binding on the labour unions,” he said. “Consequent on the foregoing, the call to industrial action is premature, ineffectual and illegal. The proposed strike action is also at variance with the order of the National Industrial Court and the ongoing mediatory settlement efforts over the issues connected with the subject matter of the order. The strike was not effective in the private sector in Warri , Delta state as several banks operated smoothly. Zenith bank, First bank  branches on the ever busy Warri Sapele road were busy attending to customers. The courts in Warri and Uvwie local government areas were also shut. Meantime, some residents in Warri and Uvwie who declared support for the strike  enjoined the Nigeria Labour congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC, to ensure the strike yielded positive result this time. ” I am in  support of the strike. The hardship is too much “. 

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