Ajaero’s alleged assault: FG knocks Labour, strike records partial compliance

The Federal Government on Tuesday berated the organised Labour over the ongoing nationwide strike declared by union leaders following the assault on the Nigeria Labour Congress President, Joe Ajaero.

Kamarudeen Ogundele, the Special Assistant to the Minister of the Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, in an interview on Arise Television on Tuesday, said the strike was not in the interest of the country.

But President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo who also appeared on Arise Television, noted that the Governor of Imo state, Hope Uzodimma, had not apologised over the brutalisation of Ajaero.

He said this as nationwide strike declared by the organised Labour recorded partial compliance in several states on Tuesday.

Faulting the Labour leaders, Ogundele said, “Declaring a strike at this time will not be in the interest of the country. The country is trying to regain economic control and to also recover in several sectors. Instead of looking for at how we progress as a nation, there is no need for us to try to be involved in actions that will constitute a clog in the process of the country.”

When asked if the FG had not talked to the labour unions before it got to this stage of protest, Ogundele said who spoke on what he described as the genesis of the strike, said, “They (the labour unions) claimed that the NLC president was attacked in Imo State and I understand that there was an order of the court banning them from assembling or protesting in Imo. But they went against the order of the court by assembling. The government of the day is not out to promote violence but the labour unions have not come out to say the president of the country had a hand in what happened on that day. Why are they now trying to escalate what happened in the state to the whole federation?”

Justifying the strike, Osifo stated, “We allowed some of the essential services workers to work because we are also patriotic people at the end of the day. From our assessment, the strike has been successful based on our template and if the government continuously foot drags, more institutions will be shut down.

On the court order stopping the strike, Osifo said, “The government can not continually take black market injunctions to cripple Labour. They will have to arrest the entire Nigerians.”

But there was partial compliance to the strike. While workers in Lagos, Rivers, Kwara, Bauchi, Zamfara, and several other states completely shunned the strike as offices, schools, and banks opened, there was partial compliance in some states where some sectors partly obeyed the strike directive.

Partial observance was recorded in Anambra, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, and Ogun states as banks and overnment offices were open in some of them while workers did not report at work in others.

The strike was declared by the NLC and the TUC to protest the alleged brutalisation of the NLC president, during a workers‘ protest in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1.

Banks, government and private-owned schools, and tertiary institutions across Lagos did not obey the strike directive.

Also, business owners and parastatals carried on with their activities throughout Tuesday.

Our correspondents visited some schools in Lagos, including Omole Grammar School, Olusosun Primary Health Centre, Oregun, and Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital and all were open for services.

Banks in the Oregun, Ikeja axis also opened their doors to customers.

However, students at the University of Lagos, Akoka, were sent away from their classrooms.

A student in the Department of Social Work, who gave his name simply as Emeka, said, “We came for a lecture at 9am but till 11am, we didn’t see our lecturer so we went back to our hostels while those leaving

off-campus went back home after we were told there was a strike.”

The Lagos State University, Ojo, did not participate in the strike as it went on with its ongoing examinations.

Students were seen reading and moving in and out of halls to sit for their exams.

A visit to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control office in the Oshodi area of the state also revealed that workers went about with their daily activities.

Public and private schools in Lagos state were open for regular school activities with no sign of strike observed.

Some teachers, who spoke to our correspondent, said they were aware of the directive by the NLC but had no reason to comply.

A teacher at a technical school, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “We have a full house here. All our teachers are

working, and all our students are here. We heard about the strike, but, as you can see, we are not on strike.”

It was also observed that some workers at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, were at their duty posts, while some offices only had a handful of staffers hanging around their offices when our correspondent visited.

The Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State chapter of the NLC, Mr Ismail Adejumo, said the level of compliance would increase on Wednesday (today).

“We have a substantial level of compliance today (Tuesday). Most of our affiliates have complied and we are mobilising others to join the struggle.

“Both the NLC and the TUC are in this struggle together.

We are currently moving around to monitor and enforce compliance among all our sister affiliates. We are determined to ensure that there is total compliance,’’ he stated.

Omolewa

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