Construction works in Nigeria have come to a grinding halt following an indefinite strike by workers in the construction sector allied to the National Union of Civil Engineering, Construction Furniture and Wood Workers, NUCECFWW.
The workers have staged a protest against alleged refusal of employer’s body under the umbrella of Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) to abide by the rules of engagement outlined in the National Joint Industrial Council, NJIC.
The workers argued that at the expiry of the 2013 agreement where the employers were awarded a 39 percent salary increment across board to workers, FOCI had, asked the union to send their proposals for negotiation based on NIJC in a letter dated in a letter dated September, 2015. In November 2015 the workers demanded a 100 percent salary increment
Despite a number of negotiations, both parties failed to reach a consensus and therefore the negotiations broke down in February prompting the union to issue a 10-day ultimatum to FOCI to accept and implement the new demands.
FOCI was also accused of negligence and unwillingness to improve the welfare of workers despite the harsh economic times being witnessed in the country. The ultimatum expired without any positive response from FOCI prompting the union to direct its members to down tools and begin the indefinite strike
“They reduced the work force. Now a few do the work of many, yet the employers have refused to review salaries. However, they have expatriates, each earning the salary of 10 Nigerians.
Since they have refused to come to the negotiation table, we have gone on strike. 350 branches nationwide, representing 99 percent, have complied.” Said the President-General of NUCECFWW, Mr. Amechi Asugwuni on the ongoing strike.
He added that the strike has already paralyzed work in the construction industry across the country putting the deplorable road network in an even more sorry state.
A labor contractor to one of the major construction companies in Lagos who sought anonymity said that the strike was biting hard given a few workers who had been doing skeletal services when the strike started on Tuesday , had also joined their striking counterparts for a full blown strike. She said all activities have stalled as all workers stayed away from their working places
A manager in one of the company who talked on condition of anonymity blamed the Federal Government and tiers of government for the near collapse of the industry saying the government had failed to clear over N600 billion owed to construction firms, making it hard for the construction companies to meet up with contractual obligations to workers.