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Strike: Private sector wants FG, labour to avert socioeconomic disruption

By Esenvosa Izah

The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has reiterated its call on the Federal Government and Labour Unions to work assiduously to avert the looming disruption of socioeconomic activities in the country.

The organisations made the call in a statement on Sunday in reaction to the planned nationwide strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over unresolved issues following the fuel subsidy removal.

OPSN noted that the economic indicators were not good and the economy could not afford a nationwide strike at this time.

The OPSN comprises five business membership organisations — Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture; Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, and Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists.

“We have keenly watched the back and forth consultations between the government on the one hand and the NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) on the other.

“It is evident that the series of consultations between government and labour unions have not yielded positive results, and the latter has resolved, in one way or the other, to go ahead with the protest/strike.

“We are worried that adequate consideration is not given to the dire situation of the economy and the devastating/disruptive impact that a nationwide strike will have on the country at this time.

“Look, the government and labour need to understand that our economy is being de-marketed and the livelihood of the average Nigerian is being diminished by this incessant bickering.

“One is beginning to wonder if the wellbeing of more than 200 million Nigerians is being factored into their negotiations, “ it said.

The organisations said there was need for both organised labour and government to begin to have conversations around how they could resolve issues without jeopardising the livelihood of the average Nigerian and truncating business projection and activities.

OPSN said there should be some innovation around how the conversation between the government and labour would not always end up in holding the economy hostage.

“The unintended consequence on the fortune of the average business and people of Nigeria is unwarranted and becoming too high.

“Government should demonstrate good faith in keeping to its promises during the negotiations and abstain from making promises they cannot or do not intend to keep.

“On the other hand, labour should do a realistic assessment of its demands, within the context of prevailing economic realities, while going the extra mile to indicate how its demands could be met.

“I look forward to a time that labour would extend the scope of its demands to include recommendations on how government can meet those demands, with implementation strategies and realistic timelines.

“Governance is a collective effort and all the segments of the society should realistically hold government accountable and demand improved wellbeing of the people, “ OPSN said.

Talks between labour and the government on post-subsidy removal palliatives for workers, especially at federal level, have been inconclusive.

Both parties were expected to resolve some of the key issues tabled before the government by the organised labour with stipulated timelines.

The demands of the NLC and TUC include wage award, tax exemptions and allowances to public sector workers and provision of Compressed Natural Gas buses.

Others are the release of modalities for the N70bn for Small and Medium Enterprises; release of officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers by the police, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria crisis in Lagos, among others. (NAN)

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