Scores of federal ciivil servants on Tuesday stayed away from work in adherence to the two-day strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to protest the suffering occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited the ever busy Federal Secretariat on Shehu Shagari Way in Abuja, activities were low. Only a few workers were noticed gong to their offices. Even those who reported for work quickly returned to their homes.
There was heavy presence of security personnel from different agencies at the secretariat to stop any breakdown of law and order.
Apart from the police, the personnel of Nigeria Security, Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Sefety Commission (FRSC) were also noticed around the secretariat, the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Some banks and filling stations in Wuse District of Abuja visited by this newspaper opened for business, an indication that members of some affiliated unions such as NUPENG and NUBIFIE did not join the protests.
For instance, the AZMAN and Total filling stations on Sultan Abubakar Way in Wuse was dispensing petroleum products. Similarly, customers were seen moving in and out of the First Bank on Mambolo Street of Wuse unhindered to transact business.
NLC, in a communique issued after its National Executive meeting on 31 August, announced a two-day warning strike from 5 to 6 September over the hardship faced by the masses due to the removal of fuel subsidy.
On Monday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, scheduled a meeting with the officials of the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) but the leadership of the former did not attend.
During the meeting, the federal government appealed for a period of two weeks to finalise the organised labour’s demands.
“Some of the issues we discussed are those that are very urgent. There are some that will require a long span of time. This was the basis of our discussion.
“We agreed that there should be no strike within the two-week period while we are doing our deliberations and working towards realising some of these objectives.”
TUC President, Festus Osifo, told journalists that its leadership would continue to engage with the federal government to ensure that its demands are addressed.
“In the palliatives that were rolled out, we have not seen anything put in place for federal workers.
“We need a wage award. The palliatives rolled out by the government are not far-reaching. We believe that the government can do much more,” he said.
On 2 August, both the TUC and NLC successfully organised a nationwide protests but called it off after the first day following the intervention of the federal government.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the nationwide protest called by the two labour unions was held in various state capitals.
The Abuja protest was led by Messrs Ajaero and Osifo.
The Abuja protesters marched from the Unity Fountain to the National Assembly complex where they were addressed by the Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume, who promised that the upper chamber would intervene in the crisis.
The labour leaders met with President Bola Tinubu after the protest that day.
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