If Strikes Are Unacceptable, Should Hardship Be Acceptable?

President Bola Tinubu‘s description of organised labour’s strikes over the high cost of living in Nigeria as ‘unacceptable’ is anti-democratic.

Development Diaries reports that Tinubu, on Thursday, threw a jab at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over the unions’ strikes, saying calling for four industrial actions against an administration that is barely nine months old is unacceptable.

‘The labour union has gone on strike four times within my nine months in government. That’s a record. Calling for a strike in just nine months of an administration is unacceptable. The NLC is not the voice of Nigerians. It should wait till 2027 if it is interested in joining the electoral process’, he said.

‘The labour union should understand that no matter how much we cling to our freedom and rights… to call for strike within nine months of an administration is unacceptable’.

Why would the president of a democratic nation make such a comment? Is it now undemocratic to embark on strikes and peaceful protests?

If strikes or protests are not acceptable, then what is acceptable? Unbearable hardship? The government’s obvious inaction towards the plight of the people?

In a democratic society like Nigeria, freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed. Organised labour has the right to express its concerns, grievances, and demands without fear of reprisal or intimidation from the government. Bullying them into silence infringes upon this basic democratic principle.

Recall that the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, had alleged that the union was intimidated and harassed in a bid to prevent demonstrations earlier this week.

Since Tinubu took office, organised labour has gone on two strikes. The most recent one took place on Tuesday when the NLC organised peaceful marches in Abuja, Lagos, and several other cities in protest against the rising cost of living and the federal government’s apparent inaction towards the plight of the citizens.

Our president must remember that peaceful assembly and protest are essential components of a democratic society, and labour unions play a vital role in advocating for the rights and welfare of workers through demonstrations, strikes, and collective bargaining.

Attempting to silence or suppress these activities undermines the democratic process and stifles dissent.

If the president’s policies have positively affected Nigerians, there would not be any need for protests and strike actions.

Development Diaries calls on President Tinubu to respect the rights of labour unions, especially as the leader of a democratic nation and as one who promised a democratic government before he was elected.

Photo source: Bola Tinubu


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