Widespread Disruptions as Nationwide Labor Strike Commences

Workers across Nigeria have downed tools in a nationwide strike organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). The strike action is in response to the recent hike in electricity tariffs and the lack of consensus on a new minimum wage.

Despite last-minute intervention by the National Assembly to avert the strike declared on Friday, May 31, 2024, the discussions ended in a stalemate, leading to the commencement of the industrial action.

The industrial action has affected businesses and critical services across the country, including schools, hospitals, and power supply as workers complied with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) order.

From River State in the South-South region to Kaduna in Nigeria’s North-West, the workers’ actions grounded economic activities.

Activities were halted at airports across the country, including Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, and Lagos.

At the Port Harcourt Airport, as early as 7:00 am, airport workers under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) blocked access into the airport for vehicles.

This left passengers stranded, forcing some of them to come down from their vehicles and trek into the airport. However, flights haven’t been disrupted and there is a heavy security presence.

According to the chairman of the Rivers State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, Emmanuel Akagha, the passengers are still being allowed into the airport because the road leading to the airport connects some communities. He, however, said there’s no checking-in or boarding allowed.

It was a similar situation in Lagos State. At the airport, some stranded passengers were captured with luggage in hand. The aviation unions locked the gate, denying staff and passengers access to the terminal.

At the Abuja Airport, there is an unusual quietness. A few passengers are seen at one of the entrances into the terminal as doors are locked. Inside the airport terminal is empty. No staff were in sight. The airline stands were also empty.
Strike Grounds Academic Activities

Activities were equally paused in schools. Across the country, students who were already in school were sent back.

In the nation’s capital Abuja, Channels Television reported of clusters of forlorn public school students returning home. In Ibadan, Oyo State, students who turned up at school were sent back by their teachers in compliance with labour’s directive.

The situation was the same in Oyo, Cross River, and other states.

In Kaduna, students of the Kaduna Polytechnic were locked out of their campus by labour officials in compliance.

As early as 7 am, union officials stormed the Unguwan Rimi Campus of the school. They drove the students out of the institution and locked the gate.

According to Channels Television report, Some of the students condemned the incident, asking labour to return to the negotiation table. They are worried that their academic calendar will be affected if the strike continues.

Nationwide Blackout, Hospital Closed

Labour leaders in Kaduna also sealed the main gate of the National Ear Care Centre. They chased out the workers and also prevented out-patients from getting into the hospital.

Early Monday, the national grid was shut down by workers, throwing the nation into a blackout.

The General Manager (Public Affairs) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) Ndidi Mbah said the nationwide blackout was due to staff of the TCN, under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Workers (NUEE), completely shutting down all power substations across the country at approximately 2:19 am on Monday, causing the national grid system to drop to zero megawatts.

In compliance with the NLC/TUC order, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) also shut down operations at the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO).

The Kaduna State chairman of the TUC Abdullahi Danfulani said all affiliate unions are complying totally with the strike and won’t back down until the Federal Government does the needful.

Unionists have also shut government offices and disrupted activities in some banks.

The NLC and TUC in Edo State locked up the State Secretariat in Benin City, shutting out civil servants from the complex. The unions say even though the state government recently increased the minimum wage to N70,000, they had to comply with the national body’s directive, maintaining that the strike is not targeted at the state.

In Imo State, NLC officials also locked out civil servants at the State Secretariat in Owerri the state capital.

Both fuel stations, schools, and banks across the Calabar metropolis in Cross River complied with the exercise.

The situation is not different in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre Lagos as government offices have been shut.

In Alausa, where most state government offices are located, workers were locked out, and business activities were grounded.

Channels Television observed that the roads were unusually less busy for a Monday morning in Lagos. The Lagos State chairman of the NLC says the union is out to ensure compliance with the directive issued by its directive issued by executives.

Courts were also closed in Lagos State.

Neighbouring Ogun State is also experiencing a crippling of economic activities. The Federal Secretariat in Abeokuta, the state capital, is under lock and key. Workers stayed away from the office. The NLC Secretariat in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was also deserted.

At the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt, labour leaders met some workers on the ground and ordered all non-essential staff to evacuate the premises.

Arriving at SPDC Industrial Area, Port Harcourt, the labour leaders opposed strongly partial compliance, insisting that the strike includes the management.
~Channels tv
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