By Gabriel Dike, Lagos
The Joint Action Front (JAF), a civil society group, has called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to commence the mobilisation for a warning general strike due to the failure of the federal government to resolve the university workers’ strike after the expiration of two weeks directive to the Minister of Education.
JAF, in a statement dated August 10, and signed by the Deputy Chairperson, Achike Chude. and the Secretary, Abiodun Aremu, said the warning general strike is necessary due to the inability of the federal government to resolve the ongoing strike by university staff unions after the expiration of two weeks directive President Muhammadu Buhari gave Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu.
JAF said two weeks after NLC mass protest and over three weeks that President Buhari ordered the education minister to resolve the strike by workers in public universities, the government is yet to reach an agreement that would end the industrial action.
The group observed that while the universities have remained closed for 180 days, the attitude of the government does not show that it is ready to sincerely meet the demands of the striking workers.
It condemned the unserious attitude of the government towards implementing agreements reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
JAF commended NLC for organising the July 26th and 27th solidarity nationwide protest in support of the university staff unions and also in sympathy with students idling away at home.
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“In view of the lack of progress in the negotiation since the protest and continued closure of public universities, JAF calls on the NLC and TUC to immediately commence preparation and mobilisation for a warning general strike and nationwide mass protest,” it stressed.
JAF stated that the government failed to keep the pact of resolving the university workers strike in two weeks.
“For us at JAF, even if it is a 48-hour general strike that the NLC and TUC are able to organise considering the state of the nation at present, this can be an important starting point for the struggle that can be built upon as time goes on,” it stated.
JAF said that based on rising inflation, the collapse of the naira, and an increase in the cost of food, energy and other basic needs, which has resulted in a cost of living crisis, such a general strike can be used to demand payment of salaries owed workers, pension arrears, review of minimum wage, reversal of fuel and electricity price hike.
It urged the NLC and TUC to declare a 48-hour general strike to save public education and demand urgent action from the government to deal with the cost of living crisis and improve the living conditions of all workers.
“We urge that such a general strike should be preceded by mass leafletting, public meetings and rallies across the country in order to build support of workers and the oppressed masses,” JAF noted.