While the NLC tinkers with growing division within its ranks, findings have shown that the N2billion debt owed the federal government leaves workers with diminished bargaining power ahead of negotiations for improved welfare schemes.
The fortunes of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and, by the extension, the fate of Nigerian workers, may lie comatose if the yoke of a N2billion loan obtained from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government is not resolved tactfully.
It was reliably gathered that government representatives plan to play the N2billion card as the ultimate joker if organized labour sticks to its gun in the course of tripartite talks slated for next week.
Already, the Wabba-led faction of NLC has been accused of selling out to government by pleading for debt forgiveness.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had obtained a N2 billion loan each from the Federal Government to procure buses and set up transport systems as part of palliatives to ease the movement of workers.
On Sunday, Mr Ayuba Wabba led his group to call off a disjointed 4-day old nation-wide strike after it failed woefully to sway the government against an increase in pump price of fuel to N145 per litre. It cited interventions of ‘well-meaning Nigerians’ which included the leadership of the National Assembly and a team led by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as reason for its action.
The strike was predictably doomed from the onset as key workers’ unions such as the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG), Electricity Workers Union and, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) pulled out soon after the idea was mooted.
While the NLC tinkers with growing division within its ranks, findings however show that the N2billion debt owed the government leaves workers with diminished bargaining power ahead of negotiations for improved welfare schemes.
A source within the NLC leadership, reacting on the N2billion loan, told Ripples Nigeria, “It is a shame that Wabba and his team have put workers in a mess by mismanaging the N2billion loan. Did he not see what the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has done with theirs? How can any sensible administration procure over 100 buses and let over 60 to lay waste.
“Same people have gone to government to ask for debt forgiveness ahead of negotiations. It all sounds unbelievable but that leaves us with little or no bargaining power.”
He added, “It is left to be seen how Nigerian workers will fair at the tripartite discussions in the weeks ahead. I am afraid we will remain enslaved for as long as President Buhari and his people decide to explore the debt loophole.”
It was reported last week how the federal government was deploying divide-and-rule as a weapon to contend with workers unrest, choosing to negotiate with the Ajaero faction of NLC after dragging Ayuba Wabba and his group to the National Industrial Court.