Three days into a 5-day warning strike that crippled economic and social activities in Kaduna State, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday suspended the strike action to honour the Federal Government’s intervention for mediation.
National President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who has been in Kaduna since Sunday leading a procession of workers and union members on the streets, said the union had received a letter of invitation for a meeting with federal government delegation in Abuja.
Wabba however said despite intimidations and threats, the strike action had been very successful and their point had been made clear.
“People have responded especially all the unions affiliated with NLC to protest the sack of Kaduna workers in mass without following due process as provided in the labour law. I want to use this opportunity to thank them and to appreciate the commitment of our comrades,” he said.
“The meeting with the Federal Government delegation under the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, will hold Thursday (today) by 11 am and we thought that it’s important for us to honour the meeting and the national leadership of the NLC will be there alongside the leadership of NLC in Kaduna. This is because it is an issue that affects the workers in Kaduna so they have the substance of the issue.
“We have also decided that in going further, the action will be suspended and the suspension takes effect tonight. Therefore, we felt that this is a very important decision that needs to be conveyed to the press and the general public.”
He thanked the people of Kaduna State for their patience and the positive comments regarding the strike action, stating that: “Even those that were hired to come and protest today were not aware of the reasons they were brought to protest and when they realised they were to protest against worker’s rights, they made it clear that it was not the purposed they were brought.”
There was no immediate comment from Kaduna State Government yesterday night as government officials assured journalists that a statement will be issued from
Sir. Kashim Ibrahim House as long as the strike suspension goes beyond talk.
A senior government official who asked not to be quoted told our correspondent that the state government was not yet convinced that the strike action had been called off as power was yet to be restored to the state as at 8:30 pm, more than an hour after NLC announced the suspension.
He said: “The first action even before the official strike action began was power outage. So, we expected that restoring power would have been the first signal that the strike had been suspended. As it is now, there is still power outage and so, what that means is that the suspension is by word of mouth,” he said.
However, the Management of Kaduna Electric said it welcomes the cheering news of the suspension of the strike action by the NLC.
The DISCO’s Head of Corporate Communication, Abdulazeez Abdullahi stated that its technical team were on standby to restore power supply to all its 11KV feeders in Kaduna as soon as the Transmission Company of Nigeria does the same on the 33KV lines.
Speaking on the suspension of the strike, Selina Musa, a resident of Kurmin Mashi in Kaduna South Local Government Area expressed satisfaction at the NLC decision to call off the strike, saying though activities had been grounded, it was necessary to send a clear message to the governor.
Musa, a trader, said the strike had affected him negatively, adding that: “we bought a cart of water from vendors at N1, 000 but it was a sacrifice we were willing to make.”
However, a banker, Aminu Zakari Yakubu, said calling off the strike before the targeted 5-day warning was imminent.
According to him, “The shutdown was only effective in government establishments. Private schools, restaurant, hotels and other businesses remained open. Fuel stations opened in the evening for customers, customers of banks are used to channels like ATMs, POS, USSD, Apps and internet banking platforms to effect transfers and make payment online. Open or not the banks still made money via this channel.
“Markets remain also fully open. So, the reality is that the civil servants are a microscopic few compared to the larger population of the state.”