Bank officials and customers were accosted by some members of the Delta State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for not participating in the nationwide strike they initiated as a response to the recent fuel price hike.
The striking workers grounded official and economic activities on Wednesday, causing a heavy gridlock along the popular Nebisis and Illah roads in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
A SaharaReporters correspondent who monitored the strike situation in Asaba observed that the Federal Secretariat, Delta Secretariat, and State-owned government institutions and schools were all under lock and key.
The protesting workers, led by the Delta State chapter NLC Vice Chairman, Jonathan Jemiregbe, told the gathering that the State chapter of the NLC is only obeying the mother union’s strike directives following the recent fuel price hike from N86.50 to N145.00 per liter and the hike in the electricity tariff by the federal government.
"Labor is saying that a reversal to the old fuel price of N86.50 is the only panacea to this indefinite strike. The federal government ignored the National Assembly and went ahead to unilaterally increase the electricity tariff despite the clarion call by Nigerians not to do so. Now they have increased the fuel price when labor and the masses were against it. NLC is saying a reversal to the old order is the only solution to calling off the strike. We are carrying out orders from the national headquarters of the NLC.
"All ministries, departments and agencies are complying with the strike order and the frivolous court cannot even stop us. The judiciary is fond of giving obnoxious court orders. Before an injunction is given, the parties concerned must be carried along. But the NLC was not carried along. Labor leaders that refused to join the strike are government agents and sponsors,” Mr. Jemiregbe said.
He added that the strike would continue indefinitely until the federal government reinstates the old price of N86.50.
“This strike is indefinite. We say no to the fuel price hike, no to the electricity tariff hike. The only solution is reversal to the old price. We are so happy in Delta State that over 80 percent compliance was recorded because our monitoring team combed all the agencies and compelled the civil servants and other workers to comply with the national directive of the NLC.”
The NLC Vice Chairman said he was disappointed by Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s refusal to address the strikers. After hours of waiting outside of the Delta State Government House, the governor’s Chief of Staff, Tam Brisibe, and Special Adviser on Labor and Industrial Relations, Mike Okeme, emerged to speak to the crowd.
When Mr. Brisbe explained to the protesters that the governor was busy with “official matters,” he was met with angry boos.
According to Mr. Brisibe, the governor is aware of the NLC’s support and takes their grievances seriously. He added that the battle being fought by the NLC is not for themselves but for all Nigerians and assured the workers that the lingering issue between NLC and the Nigerian government would be addressed.
Mr. Brisibe thanked the protesters for conducting themselves in an orderly manner in making sure that the strike order was strictly adhered to by all workers in the State.