As earlier threatened, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Kaduna State Chapter has commenced its planned warning strike in the State, including the electricity workers. The 5-day strike is in response to reform plans by the Governor Nasir El-Rufai-led administration that will further reduce the size of workers under the state’s payroll, including the recent dismissal of workers. Since inception, the exercise has dismissed about 7,000 workers.
As early as 12am Saturday night, the electricity supply to all parts of the state was cut off by workers of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), in line with the directive issued by NLC.
Other trade unions have also shown solidarity with the move and have since directed all their members to stay away from their respective duty posts, starting from today, Monday.
Since the news of the planned strike was made public, residents have been engaged in panic buying in a bid to ensure they have enough supplies throughout the strike period. This has led to an emergence of long queues at petrol stations and an upward movement of food prices in the market.
In as much as the strike seems to be justified by the very unpopular decision by the state government to sack workers due to the “over-bloated wage scale” of civil servants being serviced by the dwindling revenues generated, the direct impact of the strike is quickly eroding away the slim support other residents have for it.
As at this morning, patients in the state general hospitals and other government health facilities were left unattended to by doctors and nurses as they have also joined the strike. This has put the health and survival of some into serious jeopardy, a development the anti-strike resident has highlighted.
According to the concerned residents, and rightly so, the common man on the street will bear the brunt of hike in food prices and other negative effects of the strike over a shutdown of the economy of the state.
On the other hand, those in support believe that the strike is a good move. That it will be enable the needed attention and response from the Kaduna State Government. If the downsizing is not checked or stopped, they believe, more people will be sacked which does not agree with the promise of El-Rufai’s administration.
Records show that those who were sacked in the first term of this administration have not yet received their entitlements; this has birthed a dis-trust between the workers and the government.
For now, the strike is in place with peaceful protest being conducted by labour unions within the state capital. Will the government bow to pressure and shelve its plans to sack the workers or will it go ahead? The cries and sufferings of the people will continue for as long as the state is shut down albeit temporarily.