In response to the disruption of the Workers’ Day celebration on May 1st allegedly by agents of the Imo State government, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have jointly directed all workers in the state to withdraw their services as of Tuesday night. This directive also extends to all NLC and TUC affiliates in Imo State. The decision was made during a Joint emergency CWC meeting of the NLC and TUC, where the incident was discussed. The Imo State government was accused of attempting to force workers to attend the May Day celebrations at the governor’s chosen venue under his own clone of NLC & TUC with a threat to punish those who refuse to attend.
Joe Ajaero, the President of NLC, has accused Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma of disregarding “all known statutes both local and international in an effort to muzzle all voices of opposition in the state while he holds workers and the people down in the cesspit of fear and great despair.” He further emphasized that the government cannot dictate to workers how and where to hold their May Day celebration, as it is supposed to be a day of freedom. Ajaero said the Governor’s action is unacceptable and goes against the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), especially the spirit of conventions 87 and 98, which speak of non-interference of government and employers in the internal affairs of workers.
To comply with the Joint CWC decision, all affiliates have been requested to issue the necessary directives to their state council in Imo State to embark on a comprehensive withdrawal of their services in the state by midnight on Tuesday. The NLC reiterated its commitment to creatively engage all forms of anti-workers practices across the nation, and urged workers in Imo State to participate in achieving their collective objectives.
It is important to note that the Imo State government has continued to defy sane engagements, reasonable dialogue, and compliance with the laws of the nation. The NLC wants to state clearly that they are not fazed by the threat to sanction their workers who have decided not to attend the Governor’s version of the May Day celebrations, wherever he has chosen to celebrate it with the stooges that he has selected and is using to exploit, oppress, and emasculate workers in the state. Workers in Imo State have been urged to ignore the “Nicodemus Circular” that was issued on a Sunday and proceed to the State Secretariat of NLC in Owerri where workers are gathering to observe the May Day as originally planned. The NLC has pledged to defend anyone the lawless government thinks they can victimize, and affirmed that it is their celebration, and they will decide how to go about it.
With this joint directive from the NLC and TUC, Imo State workers are expected to comply with the withdrawal of their services. It remains to be seen how the Imo State government will react to this decision, and what the implications of the strike will be for the state and its workers.