New Telegraph

Nationwide Protest: Stop Undermining Us, TUC Tells NLC

As the planned nationwide protest declared by the NLC draws closer, bad blood may be brewing between the two labour movements in the country, as the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has asked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to stop taking a unilateral decision on issues of interest to both organisations.

A source at the TUC who spoke to newsmen on Wednesday but craved anonymity disclosed that it was wrong for NLC to declare to have declared a 2-day national protest without first consulting with its sister movement in the struggle after they had jointly issued a 14-day ultimatum on the same matter easier.

Also the TUC in a letter sighted by newsmen, expressed its displeasure and disappointment over the recent development, which it noted was happening for the third time since Comrade Ajaero’s led leadership of the NLC came on board.

The letter partly reads: “You will recall that both centres issued a joint statement with a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government. This ultimatum will expire on Thursday 22nd of February and the right thing to do was for both leaders to review the situation and agree on the way forward preceding convening our respective NEC meetings.

“Our respective NEC is made up of highly intelligent individuals, who are desirous that we both work together always in our collective interest, even if we didn’t anticipate our NEC decision meetings, it is our responsibility as leaders to harmonize our positions before jointly going to the press.

“It was our understanding that decisions of such magnitude would be made collectively, ensuring that the interests and perspectives of all parties involved are duly considered.

“This is the way other leaders of both centres have worked together from the time of SECSCAN to when TUC was formally registered.

“It is important to stress that this is the third time such unilateral declaration has happened under your leadership, we are therefore constrained to formally put this on record as various discussions, communications and interventions have failed. The first and second times could pass as human error but a third time would in our opinion translate to an intentional act to undermine us.

“Again, recall we requested that both congresses, should jointly develop an MOU that will clearly guide and define our collaboration on issues of mutual interest to avoid situations like this, which has not seen the light of the day.

“Comrade President, also note that we are not averse to the issuance of your resolution because our members equally feel the pain, even if it’s a weeklong national strike, but we have a huge problem with the unilateral declaration for a process we both muted and agreed because our members are equally concerned about the rising cost of living and not particularly the ultimatum, why can’t we see through the ultimatum that expires within the same period before jointly addressing other issues of mutual concern or at worst consolidate them?

“At best when the NLC conveyed its NEC meeting on the subject of mutual concern, courtesy demands that we ought to have been informed so we can synergize on the way forward and not jump the gun.

“We cannot be seen to undermine the process of synergy and collaboration between both centres that predates the current leadership of both congresses.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we fully understand that NLC is an independent labour centre that has the right to make an independent decision, it is pertinent that when such decisions are taken unilaterally, there is a need to go ahead and implement them unilaterally.

“We wish to postulate that both centres have demonstrated severally that we both have the capacity to go solo but my comrade President, you will agree with the slogan we couched for this unity that “we are always stronger together”, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“We want you to always remember that we have teeming members that we lead and are answerable to, when such abnormally happens the leadership has the right to defend the sanctity of its congress.

“Recall this same issue of unilateral decision, was what made us stay away from the two-day warning strike that you staged in September last year.

“The entire world noticed our collective strength when the governor of Imo state overstepped his bounds, and we rose to the occasion.

“That is the kind of synergy and collaboration that we yearn for and that we strongly believe the Nigerian working people and the downtrodden are looking from our collaborative efforts of working together.

“As you are aware of our previous discussions that cumulated into a late-night meeting at the NUEE Lodge, Utako last year after the unilateral decision of two days warning strike and several other interventions which emphasized the importance of mutual respect, collaboration and effective communication in matters affecting workers and the masses.
Congress was greatly taken aback and dismayed to learn that you addressed the press and announced the dates for the nationwide protest without consulting us. Making arrangements for press is even an indication that you have an idea of what the outcome of the NEC meeting would be.

“This action undermines the spirit of solidarity and cooperation that we have worked hard to foster.

“Nonetheless, we wish to state that such unilateral actions are contrary to the principles of our shared understanding and collaboration. In order to uphold the integrity of our partnership and ensure that the voices of all workers are heard, decisions of this nature must be made through open dialogue and consensus-building.

“We kindly urge you to reconsider your approach and to engage in meaningful consultation with all parties moving forward as we will always do the same when the table turns. By doing so, we can reaffirm our commitment to working together for the betterment of workers’ rights and welfare.”

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