By Samuel Adegoke
Nigerians who have banked on using train for their journeys this weekend face travel misery as workers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) will embark on a three-day warning strike tomorrow Thursday.
They are using the strike to press for an upward review of their salaries better working conditions.
The strike will create woes for thousands of citizens who are already used to the comfort and convenience of rail travel as a better alternative to road travel particularly on Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna and Warri-Itakpe routes where the NRC is operating a standard gauge rail service for passengers.
Train service has become attractive for passengers on the routes as it is a perfect escape from road traffic snarls, accidents and insecurity.
The two labour unions in the Nigerian rail sector, the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) and the Senior Staff Association (SSA) NRC Branch had last week issued a 3-day warning strike notice over poor welfare packages for workers.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting with the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the President, Senior Staff Association (SSA), NRC Branch, Comrade Aliyu Mainasara, explained that the request by the minister that the workers suspend their planned strike before he can talk on review of workers welfare were rejected by the workers
According to Comrade Mainasara; “The meeting with the Minister of Transportation was deadlocked because he was asking us to first inform our members that the strike has been called off before he can discuss with our efforts that have been put into reviewing workers salaries; but we rejected that suggestion.
“We won’t call off the strike because we want to listen to efforts that are being put into reviewing workers’ salaries in the rail sector. To us, that is a mere political statement. We are tired of listening to such statements. As we speak, the planned 3-day strike action billed to start on Thursday will go on.”
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of the NUR, Comrade Segun Esan, said the Minister of Transportation left the meeting before any meaningful convergence could be achieved.
He said: “The meeting with the Minister of Transportation held but ended in a subtle deadlock because the minister left the meeting before any meaningful convergence can be reached.”
A joint statement signed by President General, NUR, Comrade Innocent Ajiji; President SSA, NRC branch, Comrade Aliyu Mainasara; Secretary-General, NUR, Comrade Segun Esan; and Secretary SSA, NRC branch, Comrade Kadiri Jibrin, titled: ‘NOTICE AND DIRECTIVE TO EMBARK ON 3-DAY WARNING STRIKE NATIONWIDE,’ had explained that a joint meeting held in Lagos on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, where the welfare of the workers of the Corporation was put before the NRC Management, has finally unanimously resolved that:
“All the district organs (DWCs) of the NUR and SSA should, as a matter of expedience, summon a general meeting of all the workers of their districts on Monday, 15th November 2021 at exactly 10.00 a.m. prompt and, in unambiguous terms, notify the entire workers of the commencement of a 3-day warning strike beginning from midnight prior to Thursday, 18th through Saturday, 20th November 2021;
“That the DWCs of both the NUR and SSA should fuse up, resume, and function as their Districts’ Strike Action Committee prior to the commencement of the 3-day warning strike action and throughout the period of the strike and shall ensure full and total compliance of all the workers with the strike action as declared by the joint leadership of the two in-house unions.
“That the Chairmen and the Secretaries shall be solely responsible for the sitrep (situation report) of the days of the strike action and shall escalate same to the national secretariat of the union for its information and necessary action.
“That the strike activities, which must include fervent intercessory prayers for the success of the struggles, should be within the premises of the Corporation and must be essentially orderly, well-organized, and devoid of any destruction or violation of railway assets, our assets.
“That all the workers must comply and stay out of their offices but gather together behind their district union leaders to participate actively, peacefully, and consistently in the whole days of the strike without any fear or let;
“That this planned strike action is just to send a warning signal to the right quarters to heed our demands for improved welfare and standard condition of service and may be followed with a protracted strike action plan;
“That the district leadership of the unions should always await further directives from Lagos from time to time as may be deemed expedient by the national officers of the unions;
“That every district must comply with this notice as any act prejudicial to this notice will be viewed very seriously and strictly by the leadership of the unions.”