Total Strike: NURTW To Withdraw Buses



The National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, has said that it will withdraw  all commuter buses from roads nationwide from tomorrow when the Nigerian Labour  Congress, NLC, kicks off a three-day warning strike to protest the  non-implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.


The NLC has been agitating for a new national minimum wage for many years.  The current minimum wage is N7,500.

NURTW, at a press conference organised by the Labour and Civil Society Coalition,  LASCO, yesterday, in Lagos State, South West Nigeria, said that the withdrawal of  the buses is to ensure total success of the industrial action.

Paul Ogini, Deputy State Secretary of NURTW, who spoke on behalf of the Union, said  that the road transport workers would abide by every decision taken by NLC.

He maintained that the strike must go on, adding that commuter bus drivers may be  barred from working just to ensure the success of the strike.

“We are duly committed to ensuring that the strike action is fully complied with,”  he said.

Several other leaders of labour and civil society groups in attendance supported the  action.

Comrade Abiodun Ogunade who represented the Trade Union Congress, TUC, said the  strike must go on as the Federal Government has not shown seriousness during  negotiations.

Chairman of LASCO, Dr. Dipo Fashina, said: “What we are talking about is just enough  for transportation and pay for rent if you can do the job. It is not a fancy thing  and not aimed at leisure.

“If you look at what it takes someone to feed his family and provide health, it is  clear to any rational being that the wage cannot go anywhere with a family of three  children.”

Fashina wondered why the government and lawmakers at the National Assembly paid deaf  ears to the welfare of the country’s citizens.

According to him, while the average lawmaker earns above N10 million, the National  Assembly has decided to pay deaf ears to workers’ cries.

“When bills that would favour them come, they are quickly passed, but when it comes  to the workers, they draw back.

“They are giving themselves everything but when it comes to the workers, they say  wait,” he said.

He said that that while 13 Governors were in support of the new minimum wage, others  were trying to thwart the move.

Fashina said that Nigerian leaders have destroyed everything in the country  including education and health.

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“In Lagos, medical services are not working and roads have collapsed. Nigerians must  wake up and support the civil society groups so that they can enjoy a decent  living,” he said.
The NLC had earlier vowed to shut down the country with effect from 12 midnight on  Tuesday.

Speaking with P.M.NEWS  yesterday about the impending three-day warning strike,  the  Assistant Secretary General of NLC, Denja Yaqub said: “there is no going back on   the strike.”

According to him, “we are going to shut down everything, including the airspace.   What can stop the strike is if President Goodluck Jonathan immediately sends  the draft bill on the minimum wage agreement to the National Assembly to be passed  into law.”

Yaqub said President Jonathan was merely politicising the issue, adding that the   agreement  drafted by Justice Alfa Belgore, who was the chairman of the committee   set up to negotiate with labour,  has been with the Federal Government and that  what  is left is for the government to send it to the National Assembly.

He said President Jonathan’s remarks that the Council of State will meet again  over the agreement already reached amounts to chasing shadows because state  governors had contributed to the agreement and some even suggested that the minimum  wage be higher than the N18, 000 being demanded. He advised President Jonathan to  get serious or risk losing the trust of Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the tripartite meeting between the Federal Government, state governors  and representatives of the organised labour over the N18,000 minimum wage ended in a  deadlock yesterday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The Sambo-led sub- committee has Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Babatunde Fashola  (Lagos), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Sullivan Chime (Enugu) and Gabriel Suswan (Benue) as  members. Promise Adewusi and the President-General of the TUC, Peter Esele, led the  labour team that included Mr. Peter Adeyemi, Mr. Isah Aremu and Mr. Iduh Odah.

But, after the meeting, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress Committee on  National Strike, Adewusi said: “The strike is very much on course. We just ended a  meeting with Vice-President, Namadi Sambo. But unfortunately, nothing new was put on  the table. So we are fully mobilised for Wednesday.”

Adewusi said no progress was made at the meeting because the government’s team,  rather than heed labour’s demand, opted to ask for more time.

Also on yesterday, a formidable affiliate of TUC, the Petroleum and Natural Gas  Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, directed its members to participate fully in  the strike.

Odah, who is the acting head of information of the NLC, said that the deliberations  ended in a stalemate because the government only pleaded with labour to call off the  strike.

He said, “Labour did not make any demand. We needn’t make any demands because the  issues were well known before we got to the meeting with the government.

“We decided to opt for the strike option because the Federal Government only went to  the meeting to plead with us to shelve the strike and we said no. It is not as if  labour made new demands. That is not it, the issues are well known.”

—Simon Ateba, Eromosele Ebhomele, Omolade Okunowo &  Samuel Omiyale

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