The Federal Government should brace for a three-day nationwide strike across all sectors if the crisis in the nation’s public universities is left unresolved, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned.
Scores of unions in various critical sectors such as aviation, electricity, and petroleum among others, are affiliated with the labour union.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, gave the warning on Tuesday during his appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, amid the protest by members of the union across the country.
“The protest first is to show our concern and to also call for urgent action to resolve the issues. We took two levels of decision,” he said while highlighting the importance of the protest.
“First is the national protest to call for attention and for the issues to be resolved promptly, and the next level is three days national warning strike if nothing has happened after the protest to show our grievances.”
Members of the NLC across the country trooped to the major streets of the state capital of their respective branches in protest against the prolonged strike by university workers.
The national leadership of the union is expected to join the demonstration in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday, a day after it began in all 36 states of the Federation.
University workers, including members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), had gone on strike for various reasons.
While the Federal Government said the decision of the NLC to embark on a nationwide protest was illegal, the leadership of the union insisted that its action was within the ambit of the law.
“These are democratic norms everywhere around the law,” Wabba stated. “It is within the provisions of our law; it is backed by UN Charter for Human and People’s Rights, African Charter for Human and People’s Rights.
“It is there in our constitution – Section 39/40, and even the courts have pronounced that you don’t require any permission; so it is legal, it is within your fundamental rights to protest.”
Lecturers in government-owned universities – affiliated with ASUU – embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) of the government as the payment system in the university sector, as well as poor funding of universities, and non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, among other issues.
Since the industrial action began, several negotiations between the union and the government have ended in deadlock.
While the government is still struggling to resolve the issues raised by the striking lecturers, the crisis in the public universities may not end soon as other university unions have also voiced their concerns.