Don't go on strike, private employers warn NLC

Private employers of labour have warned the Nigeria Labour Congress against going ahead with its plans for a nationwide strike next week.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Adewale-Smart Oyerinde, who featured on a Television programme last night, said the proposed strike will be counter-productive.

He spoke as the NLC Head of Information Benson Upah confirmed that the planned nationwide strike by the NLC was on track.

Oyerinde warned it will hurt employers and employees.

The NECA boss, who applauded the Federal Government for the steps taken so far, however, said there was need for the government to do more.

“The approval of N5billion to each state is a step, because if the money is well spent in a state economy, it will trigger some level of consumption, which will also go back into production.

“We are also aware that the government is sharing rice. But, these efforts are not enough.”

Oyerinde said the strike will not in any way address the challenges confronting employers, employees the generality of Nigerians.

In his view, it is possible for parties in the dispute to renegotiate already agreed terms.

“Our position remains the same on the issue. And that is, if you negotiate, courtesy demands that you live up to the terms of negotiation.

“But, if anything arises that makes it difficult to live up to the terms of the negotiation, there is opportunity to renegotiate the terms that have been agreed upon, if you don’t have the capacity to implement.”

The DG said going on strike will distress stakeholders.

“For us as employers, though we are paying beyond the minimum wage and we have also gone to provide succour, palliatives, welfare packages to make life easier for employees in the private sector, notwithstanding the fact that employers are currently bleeding and facing multi-dimensional challenges.

“But, we have done well, as the President had also commended the employers in his August broadcast. A strike at this point will do two or three things.

”One, it will hinder the ability of the employers to meet their obligations and this will affect, not only the public sector, but even the workers.

“When you go on strike, it will put the employers in double jeopardy, especially when we are not the protagonist and antagonists. And that remains our position.”

Oyerinde urged the government to do everything possible to avert the industrial crisis.

He said: “We are calling on the government to do all that is necessary to avoid the strike.

“But if the strike should happen, it will be counter-productive for both employers and the workers.”

Oyerinde said government should look at the payment of multiple taxes, VAT on diesel and petrol, creation of an enabling environment, and the forex challenge.

The Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour, Olajide Oshundun, said the ministry was yet to receive any notice of strike from the NLC.

A member of the National Working Committee of the NLC said there was no need for a fresh notice as the communique issued at the end of the NEC meeting of the Congress on September 1, was enough for the government.

Upah said the government had “not done anything to suggest that it was committed to the promises it made”.

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