Moments Of Discomforts And Restlessness: The Endless Talks Of Asup, Nard And Jusun Strikes
The just concluded week couldn't be better described as one of a hullabaloo, no thanks to the discussions on industrial actions embarked upon by workers in some critical sectors connecting the dots of the Nigerian economy - judicial, educational and health.
Like a vehicle that had suddenly lost control, the entire country was plunged into moments of despair and discomfort apparently due to the maximal effects of these industrial actions on day to day living and sustenance.
While reflecting on the motive of the actions of the tripartite industrial unions: the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the Academic Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), I couldn't try to fathom and imagine the system of governance where all and sundry are subjected to pains, rigour and emotional trauma over trifle issues that could have been resolved through advocacy and negotiation to prevent violence and needless escalations.
With the emergence of these strikes by the trio of ASUP, NARD and JUSUN, it will not be far from the truth to conclude that more industrial unions will follow suit in due course, this not minding the grave consequences of their actions on both economic and social life.
Without gainsaying or making unjust or inaccurate claims, a well orchestrated industrial action with severe consequences on the economy will only make worse and aggravate issues affecting the entire citizenry.
This is even more so amidst the aftermath of a global pandemic that affected several economies plundering money into penury and poverty and with an economy on the verge of collapse due to poor fiscal policies, rising cost of goods leading to inflation, unemployment and the increasing debt profiles of a myopic government that is deafened to the cries of the masses.
When one takes into cognizance the untold hardships of workers and place them side by side along the catalogue of events and issues which were the prelude to the strikes, one cannot but take side with the aggrieved workers on their decision to boycott their duties irrespective of its large scale effects on the economy. Do we talk of failed promises or poor working conditions? What about the breach of agreements and memorandums of understanding among others? Are these not enough reasons to justify the actions of the workers?
For workers in the judicial sector, their grievances stems from the fact that no single development had been recorded since more than two years they had reached agreement with the government and ended a warning strikes.
For members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), insinuate the undeniable fact that the continued and prolonged failure of the state machinery to give ears and approve their requests, which dates back to more than half of decade. Evidences of these are found in non implementation of salary arrears and other juicy packages which are meant for their utilities.
To further worsen the situation is the action of the government by issuing warnings of threats, mobilizing law enforcement agencies to arrest offenders and protesters. In extreme cases, the utterances emanating from the verbal coffers of the agents of the state are more than enough to further justify the moral cause of the protesters.
With the speedy passage of time, labour unions and their leaders are suddenly beginning to see the insincerity of the government in dealing with matters affecting the labour force. Through this, the government is emphasizing the point that unless a strike is implemented and executed, the Nigerian labour force is only sitting idly and making a joke by issuing threats, holding news gatherings and conferences. Why wait until a strike is declared or until ultimatums and threats are issued before making actions and clearing the air?
This is to say that the government would rather wait for the workers to do their worse before rising up to take the necessary steps towards putting out the fires. This forgetting the maxim that a stitch in time saves multiples and not only nine.
Are these not the typical idiosyncrasies of our ruling elite that are economically myopic preferring to spend pennies for infinitesimal things but omitting the "weightier matters of the law"? A class of people that lack a sense of direction on political and economic administration. Seeing only from the short run rather than the long run.
As hard as it may seem to believe is the fact that we are suffering the repercussions of long age actions stemming from negligence, breaking of " sacred vows and covenants, and age long distress occasioned by payment of peanuts as monthly salaries and allowances amidst poor economic conditions, upsurge in the prices of goods and a system of governance that believes that with respect to economic luxury, some heads are bigger than others, this not minding the overall effects overtime.
How beautiful would it have been if all the fire brigade approaches embarked upon to quell the violence of these industrial actions had been made available before time this will have saved the entire nation from untold hardships and discomforts.
Notwithstanding all these, I do hope that a long lasting solution is implemented towards ending the upsurge of strikes which are beginning to spread to other areas and sectors. But until then, the question still ring out "Who will end the mystery of strikes in Nigeria's labour force?"