Organised Labour Rejects Senate President’s Accusations Of Economic Sabotage

Organised Labour Rejects Senate President’s Accusations Of Economic Sabotage

Organised Labour has strongly refuted accusations by Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who recently described the widespread strike as an act of economic sabotage.

In a vehement response, labour leaders argue that the true saboteurs are those misappropriating national resources.

During a recent press conference, the Head of Information and Public Affairs for the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Benson Upah, expressed displeasure over Akpabio’s comments, labelling them as a misrepresentation of the labour movement’s intentions and actions.

Upah criticized the Senate President’s suggestion that the Senate might convene an Executive Session to discuss the strike, arguing that such a move would undermine the principles of transparency and open debate essential to parliamentary processes.

“The notion that discussing labour’s legitimate concerns behind closed doors is counter to the democratic ethos of transparency that should guide our parliamentary procedures,” Upah stated.

He further highlighted that for over two decades, it is the political class, through pervasive corruption and misuse of authority, that has inflicted far greater harm on Nigeria’s economy than any strike action by labour.

The statement read, “NLC strongly refutes Senate President Senator Godswill Akpabio’s recent claims that the indefinite nationwide strike by the NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, constitutes economic sabotage. Such accusations are baseless and deeply troubling for Nigerian patriots and democracy advocates.

“The strike, initiated on June 3rd, was in response to the federal government’s refusal to conclude the national minimum wage negotiations, reverse electricity tariff hikes, and end discriminatory consumer classifications. This legally conducted strike reflects the frustration of Nigerian workers facing economic hardships and deteriorating working conditions.

“Senator Akpabio’s statements undermine the democratic principles the Senate professes to uphold. The National Assembly, being the closest arm of government to the people, should understand the people’s sentiments. This ought to guide their actions and pronouncements accordingly.

“Strikes are not only legal but a civic duty and a critical tool for holding those in authority and power accountable. It is a democratic right, essential for preventing dictatorship and social collapse. For the past 25 years, the political elite willfully sabotaged Nigeria through acts of corruption and abuse of power, not the workers. The true economic saboteurs are those looting national resources, not the labour force.

“We therefore urge patriotic members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to distance themselves from these damaging remarks. Nigerian workers have the constitutional right to strike in response to unfair labour practices, and the NLC and TUC have exercised this right lawfully.

“The economic issues prompting the strike, like electricity tariff hikes and unfair consumer classifications, are burdens that exacerbate poverty and inequality but from which the political elite are insulated. The NLC will continue to advocate for fair economic policies and a national minimum wage that is realistic.

“Labour unions played a crucial role in restoring democracy to Nigeria, from which current lawmakers benefit therefore, they will not sabotage it. The NLC remains committed to protecting workers’ rights and calls on government representatives to address the underlying issues leading to the strike-through constructive dialogue and genuine efforts to improve living standards instead of indulging in eye-service criticism.

“The Senate President should be concerned about the militarisation of a purely trade union dispute instead of this unhelpful blame game. Let those who are inviting the military now remember when tomorrow comes. Nigerian workers cannot operate under military conditions in a democracy; we will resist this with everything we have. Doing this on time will avert another round of industrial crisis.

“The Senate President’s subtle threat that the Senate will move into Executive Session to address the issue of our strike smacks of contempt for open and transparent debate which ought to be the bedrock of parliamentary proceedings. As he goes into the “coven”, the Senate President should realise that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) now has settled the right to strike despite Senator Lalong as Minister of Labour voting against it.

“We call on him to retrace his steps and know that he is the President of the Senate, not Chairman of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria.

“We remain open to dialogue with the government for sustainable solutions benefiting all Nigerians and expect proactive interventions to prevent anti-worker policies. We will not be intimidated by such unfortunate statements from the hallowed chambers of the Senate and we expect due apologies if it was a slip. Any attempt to undermine legitimate labour actions will not be acceptable.”

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