President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, has said that Nigerians are bearing the consequences of unfulfilled government commitments as certain employees are compelled to stay overnight at their offices during the workweek because of their remote living locations and the financial strain of commuting between their homes and workplaces.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the TUC recently made a joint announcement of an indefinite strike set to commence on October 3.
This move is aimed at compelling the federal government to address the widespread suffering and difficulties experienced by citizens due to the elimination of fuel subsidies.
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, Osifo pointed out situations where certain employees have no choice but to spend their nights in the office throughout the workweek due to their distant residences and the inability to cover the daily commuting costs between their homes and workplaces.
He said, “We have a real challenge, and it must be solved.”
He emphasised that both he and the president of the NLC have participated in numerous engagements where they discussed their concerns and offered solutions to the government, following the lifting of the subsidy, and engaging with the national assembly.
Unfortunately, none of these engagements have yielded any meaningful solutions because the government has consistently failed to fulfil its commitments, leaving Nigerians to bear the brunt.
He said, “The organised private sector, at the end of the day, should also realise that we have done our part by putting all this forward to the government.
“Strike is always a last resort, that was why we embarked on this long journey.
“For any government that is looking at the plight of the people, I think four months, about 120 days, is sufficient for you to have put some things in place, for you to have put some social safety net in place, for you to have defined a framework on the way forward.”
Osifo stated that he had a meeting with the senate president, who said would discuss with the president within the same week, however, as of today, there has been no communication or response.
“Currently, we are deploying the last option that we were waiting back and holding back not to have deployed over this period, thinking this is a new government, let us give them the benefit of the doubt,” he added.
In a concise manner, he stated that their current request, which they’ve already conveyed to the president, revolves around the president’s ability to address wage award matters and said that they are not seeking a new minimum wage but rather urging the government to take independent action regarding wage awards for federal employees.
Furthermore, when it comes to the topic of tax freeze, he mentioned that, according to their calculations, freezing taxation for them would amount to approximately 15 billion annually.
Osifo typically holds the view that a portion of the government’s savings should be used to benefit its citizens.
“We also talked about the cost of governance, we also made some far reaching arguments on what could be done in that regard,” he said “If there is a reduction in the cost of governance, a lot of money could be saved.”
He additionally mentioned that the primary goal of both the NLC and the TUC has consistently been in sync, which is to advocate for their members and alleviate their members’ hardships.
The TUC president said, “It could be that at a particular point, we were deploying different strategies, but that did not remove our eyes from the ball.
“After our NEC meeting yesterday, we felt that we have exhausted all our arsenal, and that the final thing to be done today is a strike, that was why you saw a joint statement.
“We shall follow it through until victory is ascertained.”