NLC Strike: Why This is Not The Solution To Worker's Plight

NLC Strike: Why This is Not The Solution To Worker’s Plight

NLC Strike: Why This is Not The Solution To Worker’s Plight

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is the umbrella body that oversees the welfare of Nigerian workers. Over the years, the NLC has played a crucial role in ensuring that the voice of the ordinary worker is heard. However, for some decades now, the NLC has become a shadow of its former self. Today, we see an organization whose leaders are bereft of innovative ideas and whose elections are heavily influenced by the government, consequently rendering them a toothless bulldog.

A body like the NLC is supposed to be respected by the government due to its potential influence on the economy, but that is no longer the case. During the time of Pa Michael Imoudu as a labour activist, his actions and words had significant impact even on the government. He was dedicated, people-oriented, and upright, always standing for the interest of the worker. While it is true that the challenges facing our society today are different from those of the past, the capacity and integrity of a leader remain crucial irrespective of the era.

The contemporary NLC seems to understand little beyond advocating for salary increases. They appear to lack a comprehensive understanding of workers’ welfare, wrongly assuming that salary increments alone can solve every problem. On June 3rd, 2024, the NLC embarked on a national strike demanding an increase in the minimum wage from N30,000 to N400,000, which is a significant percentage increase. While there is nothing inherently wrong with demanding such an increase, especially given the rampant embezzlement by politicians, I partly blame the NLC for the economic conditions that have led to the suffering of the Nigerian people.

The NLC fails to grasp that workers’ welfare extends beyond salaries. Workers’ welfare is deeply intertwined with the overall condition of society. Without adequate healthcare, security, education, and job opportunities, workers cannot truly thrive. The major issues facing Nigeria presently are insecurity and food inflation, which are closely linked. Food inflation is largely due to farmers being unable to farm safely because of the insecurity in the country. If the NLC leadership were proactive, they would demand a comprehensive reform of the country’s security architecture, but that has not been their approach.

We know that police or military personnel cannot publicly protest about their welfare and working conditions. This should be the job of those who benefit from their services, namely the general public. Even if the government accedes to the NLC’s demand for a salary increase, what happens to the artisans and small businesses in society? Naturally, they will raise the cost of their services to survive the hardship, leading to a vicious cycle of inflation.

Politicians, notoriously indifferent to the welfare of the people who voted them into power, continue to share billions of naira among themselves without any significant pushback. After a careful root cause analysis, it becomes evident that we are in this predicament partly because the NLC has failed to be proactive and visionary in its approach.

The NLC’s focus should be on holistic improvements in workers’ welfare, advocating for better security, healthcare, education, and overall living conditions. Only then can they truly serve the interests of Nigerian workers and contribute to a more stable and prosperous society. Supporting the strike in its current form means endorsing a narrow and shortsighted approach that overlooks the broader and more fundamental issues affecting workers’ lives.


Solutions to the Nigerian Worker’s Predicament

Addressing the challenges faced by Nigerian workers requires a comprehensive approach that includes short, medium, and long-term solutions. Here are some strategies that can help improve the welfare and conditions of Nigerian workers:

Short-Term Solutions

  1. Immediate Salary Adjustments:
    • Implementation: Increase the minimum wage to reflect the rising cost of living. This helps alleviate the immediate financial pressure on workers, enabling them to afford basic necessities.
  2. Provision of Emergency Relief Packages:
    • Implementation: Distribute food and essential supplies to the most vulnerable workers. This can provide temporary relief to workers struggling with high food prices and inflation.
  3. Enhancement of Workplace Safety Protocols:
    • Implementation: Enforce stringent safety measures and provide personal protective equipment (PPE). Ensuring a safe working environment reduces the risk of workplace accidents and illnesses.

Medium-Term Solutions

  1. Healthcare Improvement Initiatives:
    • Implementation: Establish affordable and accessible healthcare services for workers and their families. Good health is crucial for productivity; access to healthcare ensures workers remain healthy and can perform their duties effectively.
  2. Education and Training Programs:
    • Implementation: Develop vocational and technical training programs to enhance workers’ skills. Continuous learning and skill development can improve workers’ employability and career advancement prospects.
  3. Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs):
    • Implementation: Provide grants, loans, and training for entrepreneurs. Supporting SMEs can create more job opportunities and reduce unemployment rates.
  1. Strengthening Labor Laws and Enforcement:
    • Implementation: Revise and enforce labor laws to protect workers’ rights. Strong labor laws ensure fair treatment, prevent exploitation, and improve working conditions.

Long-Term Solutions

  1. Comprehensive Economic Reforms:
    • Implementation: Implement policies that stimulate economic growth, such as diversifying the economy beyond oil dependency. A diversified economy can create more job opportunities and reduce the vulnerability of workers to economic shocks.
  1. Infrastructure Development:
    • Implementation: Invest in critical infrastructure such as roads, power supply, and water. Improved infrastructure facilitates economic activities and enhances the quality of life for workers.
  2. Reform of the Security Sector:
    • Implementation: Overhaul the security architecture to ensure safety and stability. A secure environment is essential for both economic activities and personal safety, allowing workers to focus on their jobs without fear.
  3. Sustainable Agricultural Policies:
    • Implementation: Introduce policies that support modern farming techniques and provide security for farmers. Ensuring food security can help stabilize food prices and reduce inflation, benefiting all workers.
  4. Investment in Education:
    • Implementation: Increase funding for primary, secondary, and tertiary education. A well-educated workforce is essential for the long-term development of the economy and can attract higher-paying jobs.
  5. Strengthening Democratic Institutions:
    • Implementation: Promote transparency, accountability, and participation in governance. Strong democratic institutions can ensure that policies reflect the needs and interests of the workers.


Improving the welfare of Nigerian workers requires a multifaceted approach. Short-term solutions address immediate needs, while medium-term strategies focus on building a supportive environment for workers. Long-term solutions aim to create a sustainable and resilient economy. By implementing these solutions, Nigeria can ensure that its workforce is well-supported, healthy, and productive, leading to overall national development.

Osoria Asibor


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