By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – A major strike by labor unions began in Nigeria on Wednesday to press the government to reverse last week’s decision to increase the pump price of gas.
A faction of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) began its indefinite strike, shunning a Tuesday court ruling to prevent workers from taking industrial action.
Ayuba Wabba, head of the NLC faction , told Anadolu Agency Wednesday morning: “We are proceeding with the strike as communicated to our members and affiliates.”
Wabba said his members were unaware of any court ruling stopping the strike: “We were not served any court injunction; our highest decision-making body has taken the decision to proceed with the mass action,” he added.
Unions want the government to reverse an earlier increase of fuel prices from $0.26 per liter to $0.45, insisting that it heightens poverty and increases the price of consumer goods.
Although the NLC has the backing of several civil society organizations, the country's Trade Union Congress said it would not be joining the strike.
Bobboi Kagama, TUC president, told reporters late Tuesday they would stick with negotiations being held with the government.
Another NLC faction – with dozens of affiliate organizations – is also not joining the strike.
The NLC became polarized last year following a disputed election to choose its national leadership, seriously weakening the workers’ movement.
The government, meanwhile, has threatened to apply a ‘no work, no pay’ rule to any workers who join the strike.
Citing the need for the NLC to respect court ruling, secretary to the Nigerian government Babachir Lawal said in a statement that attendance registers were to be opened across all state offices to ensure staff turn up for work.
“Accordingly, all ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies are hereby directed to invoke the provision of ‘no work, no pay’ in respect of any staff member who absents himself or herself from work to join the strike,” he said.