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TUC withdraws from nationwide protest, disagrees with Nigeria Labour Congress

TUC Expresses Discord Over Unilateral Decision-Making Process, DSS Issues Cautionary Statement Ahead of Planned Demonstrations

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The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has opted out of the impending two-day nationwide protest initially declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over the prevailing high cost of living, inflation, insecurity, and general hardships across Nigeria.

The vice president of the TUC, Tommy Etim, disclosed on Wednesday that the decision to participate in the protests slated for February 27 and 28 was not collectively agreed upon by both unions.

In a letter dated February 19, 2024, the TUC Secretary General, Dr. Nuhu Toro, articulated the union’s dissent, citing the NLC’s unilateral determination of the protest dates.

Etim, in a dialogue with correspondents, affirmed the TUC’s stance expressed in the letter addressed to NLC President Joe Ajaero, asserting that “there is no way we can join the protest” in light of the divergent decision-making process.

The TUC’s withdrawal comes against the backdrop of cautionary advice from the Department of State Services (DSS), which warned organized labor against the potential for the protests to be hijacked.

The NLC had initially declared the two-day protest, scheduled to commence after the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government on February 22 (today).

The looming demonstrations underscore the persistent economic challenges, including heightened transportation costs, inflationary pressures, and broader socioeconomic strains, prompting sporadic protests nationwide, particularly among youths and women.

Earlier in February, the NLC and TUC issued a joint ultimatum to the government, outlining demands for improved wages, enhanced public services, and mitigation measures to alleviate the impact of economic reforms.

However, in a remarkable turn of events, the TUC expressed dissatisfaction with the unilateral decision-making process employed by the NLC in fixing protest dates, highlighting a systemic divergence in strategic planning.

The TUC’s letter underscored a pattern of unilateral decisions by the NLC and emphasized the need for collaborative, consensus-based approaches to addressing workers’ concerns.

While the TUC clarified its willingness to engage in protests addressing shared grievances, it raised objections to procedural discrepancies within the labor movement.

In response to the DSS advisory, NLC President Ajaero condemned what he perceived as attempted coercion, asserting the legitimacy and peaceful intent of the planned protests.

Ajaero criticized the DSS for advancing government rhetoric and accused the agency of politicizing public dissent.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government reiterated its commitment to ongoing dialogues with organized labor, underscoring progress made in meeting prior commitments and outlining various initiatives aimed at ameliorating economic hardships.

As tensions simmer and demonstrations loom, Nigeria’s labor landscape navigates a delicate balance between dissent and dialogue, reflecting broader societal aspirations for equity, stability, and prosperity.

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