The crisis trailing the fuel subsidy removal policy may not have abated as the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress has accused the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong, of breaching part of the terms of agreement that culminated in the suspension of strike threats.
General Secretary of the NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, raised the allegations on Thursday in Abuja in a lengthy statement forwarded to Pmnews.ng.
He particularly accused Lalong of taking sides with a factional union of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
Ugboaja said, “In a shocking turn of events, the Federal Minister of Labour, Mr. Lalong, has thrown a spanner in the wheel of the implementation of the Labour – Federal Government Agreement by his unmasked partiality in handling a critical item in the agreement which is the apparent Government meddling in Trade Union matters by siding with people, who had illegally seized the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) headquarters with police support.
“This group is now being encouraged to conduct its own Delegates’ Conference, both zonally and nationally to confer legitimacy to their action. This flagrant act not only constitutes an egregious intrusion into the internal affairs of a union, in violation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, but also represents a clear attempt to sabotage the recently ratified agreement between the Labour movement and the federal government.”
The NLC said it is unfathomable that a Federal Minister of Labour, tasked with safeguarding the rights and interests of diverse stakeholders in our industrial relations landscape, would opt to take actions that could undermine the very foundations of our collective engagement.
He described Lalong’s action as clearly morally reprehensible and legally untenable, saying it marks a disheartening departure from the expected standards of conduct within the nation’s industrial relations sphere.
“Despite initial assurances from the Minister regarding the illegal occupation of the NURTW’s National Headquarters, the democratically elected leadership, led by Comrade Tajudeen Baruwa, has not been reinstated. Instead, the Minister has chosen to endorse and legitimize this hijacking with the State’s backing.
“This blatant power grab, subverting legality and moral integrity, is an affront to the principles of democratic governance.
“It is now abundantly clear that the Federal Government never negotiated in good faith and, consequently, was never genuinely committed to the terms of the October 2, 2023 Agreement. This serves to affirm our earlier apprehension that the state was manoeuvring to orchestrate a coup d’état against the democratically elected NURTW leadership, potentially alluding to the support of the government, as suggested by Minister Lalong’s actions and statements.”