The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has issued a nationwide strike alert in response to the assault and mistreatment of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Joe Ajaero, and other labour leaders by individuals believed to be associated with the Imo State government.
Ajaero and fellow NLC leaders, as well as members of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and journalists, were attacked and subjected to violence by suspected state agents at the NLC secretariat in Owerri.
Reportedly, hooligans targeted labour leaders and protesters, causing damage to vehicles, causing injuries, and robbing them of mobile phones, money, ATM cards, and other valuable items. These individuals had gathered at the NLC State Secretariat to kickstart their planned protest against a range of labour-related issues, including unpaid salaries and allowances, which were among the grievances they held against the Imo State government.
The alleged wrongdoings of the Imo State government include failing to honour previous agreements, unpaid salary arrears, the unjust classification of workers as nonexistent, the destruction of the NLC state secretariat, the implementation of unequal pay, and unpaid gratuity arrears.
Additionally, there are allegations of non-compliance with the National Minimum Wage, intimidation and harassment of trade union leaders, the use of violence and thuggery, misappropriation of union dues, the classification of pensioners as nonexistent, systematic harassment and intimidation of the workforce, resistance to social dialogue and collective bargaining, and interference with workers’ democratic processes.
Regarding this situation, NUPENG’s President, Prince Williams Akporeha, expressed, “We strongly condemn the arrest and violence inflicted on Congress President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, and other labour leaders by agents of the Imo State Government. We reject this violent and uncivilised behaviour against labour leaders, workers, and others. Such behaviour is unacceptable in a democratic society. We are committed to liberating the state’s workers because an injury to one is an injury to all.”