Labour union gathers support for strike against subsidy removal

THE general strike and protest against removal of fuel subsidy by the labour movement is garnering more support as most unions have continued to declare to take active part in the protests.

The unions that have declared support included the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Association of Senior Civil Servant of Nigeria (ASCSN).

Fuel Subsidy Protesters at Surulere on Wednesday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

ASUP described the removal of subsidy as undemocratic, desperate, thoughtless, insensitive, and brazenly anti-people.

It said: “Against the backdrop of the consensus rejection of the Federal Government-canvassed removal of oil subsidy by Nigerians, it is dictatorial for the Federal Government to hike petrol price in utter disdain of the will of the Nigerian people. As well, considering the degenerate security situation in the country, the deep poverty of the people, the dearth of infrastructure and services, scary unemployment situation, an economy tottering on the brink of collapse, and a government inebriated by the lucre of corruption, it is ill-timed for government to take further subject the Nigerian people and nation to this level of suffering.”

ASUP declared that the desperation shown by the government in taking the decision has further worsened the trust deficit in the citizenry’s relationship with the government.

It added: “Government’s volte face after publicly setting an April date for the removal of oil subsidy, the documented election promises by the President, the unilateral pronouncement by the PPRA without statutory consensus are indicative of government’s desperation to cover up a yet-to-be-revealed rot in the economy.  Whatever merits there might have been to the subsidy removal proposal have been totally eroded and denuded by government’s cynicism in pushing its agenda.”

ASUP therefore stated that it would join forces with civil society, organised labour and the Nigerian citizenry to resist and reverse the sustained slide to dictatorship in the governance of the country.

Also, SSANU said NLC and TUC are not aware of any court orders stopping the protest. Its President, Samson Ugwoke, said: “We are not aware. NLC is not aware that they go to court because we were not consulted; we were not served or been in court. A reasonable and sensible jurist will ask for the accused. It is only a one party affair. We were surprised to hear that the action is illegal. How can it be illegal for me as a Nigerian to express myself? To say it is illegal is making mockery of the Constitution.”

Ugwoke, speaking through a letter entitled, “Letter of authorisation to join the general strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)” said all members of the union should join the general strike in their respective jurisdictions.

The letter was addressed to all SSANU branch chairmen and members, was also copied to all Vice Chancellors of Nigerian universities, all heads of inter-universities centres, the Executive Secretary, NUC and the Acting General Secretary of the NLC.

The letter read in part: “SSANU, as a responsible affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress, is obligated to participate fully in the general strike/protests declared by the congress over the recent fuel price increase. This letter therefore authorises all SSANU branches and members to join the strike/protests in their respective jurisdictions.

He added: “This is without prejudice to SSANU’s impending ultimatum over the non-implementation of the 2009 FGN/SSANU agreement, which expires on the 3rd of January, 2012. The National Secretariat will communicate to you our next line of action on the issue, immediately after the NLC’s general strike.”

On his part, the President of the Nigeria Civil Service Union President, Kiri Mohammed, also said the union had not been served with the purported court order.

His words: “We have not been served. If I have been served, I will know it is contempt, but we have not. It is like a Kangaroo court. We have sought legal opinion from our lawyer and the conclusion is that we can go ahead since we have not been served. So all the civil servants will withdraw their services from Monday and none will go back until our demand of fuel price reversal to N65 is met.”

He revealed that NCSU has directed its members to fully mobilise and ignore the purported court order.

Speaking on behalf of the Association of Senior Civil Servant of Nigeria (ASCSN), its President, Olakunle Olaitan, declined to speak on the strategies adopted to participate in the protest.

“Our plans and strategy for the mobilisation are kept to our chest. You don’t divulge information on your strategy when mobilising so that your detractor don’t have clue about your plan. Things will definitely take shape in the sense that we have resolved to go on strike and nothing can stop us because it is our constitutional right to protest and go on strike, more so that we are not aware of any court order,” he said.

-Nigeria Breaking News


By Collins Olayinka, Abuja

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