Nigeria’s construction workers unified as the National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) along with the Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA), have voiced their intention to initiate a brief three-day strike as a cautionary measure regarding the insufficient implementation of their industry’s wage recognition. On Thursday in Abuja, Mr. Stephen Okoro, National President of NUCECFWW, and Comrade Ayodeji Adeyemo, National President of CCESSA, united their voices to express their discontent and caution during a joint press conference.
After the warning strike, the national presidents declared that indefinite action would begin if no productive measures were taken. They expressed their dissatisfaction with the Construction Civil Engineering Employers Association of Nigeria (CCEAN), accusing them of hindering the unions’ efforts in implementing the wage award according to the agreement between the Federal Government and organised labour. President Bola Tinubu’s administration took a significant step by eliminating fuel subsidies. Before this decision, two organisations, NUCECFWW and CCESSA, reached out to the Employers Association in March 2023.
FG and organised labour hold a negotiation meeting.
Their motive was to arrange a meeting addressing the pressing issue of construction workers suffering from challenging economic conditions. Their primary aim and objective was to discuss and seek solutions pertaining to worker relief measures. However, the employers association rejected their request without any hesitation. They responded to the joint letter with a feeble justification, insisting that it would be best to wait for the conclusion of talks between the Federal Government and organised labour.
Following the successful completion of negotiations between the Federal Government and organised labour, CCESSA and NUCECFWW expressed their desire to convene a meeting with the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI). At this juncture, the intrigues commenced, reaching a point when FOC abruptly terminated any future deliberations regarding salary benefits. Consequently, a strike notice was imperative, yet FOCI promptly notified the Ministry of Labour, prompting the unions to be summoned to the Ministry’s premises for conciliation.
The construction workers were criticised for rejecting dialogue.
As a result of the aforementioned, the Minister of Labour convened two distinct gatherings, during which a delegate from the minister’s office suggested that the concerned parties engage in a constructive conversation and reach a consensus regarding the remuneration for workers within the construction sector. Despite receiving this guidance, employers in the construction sector defiantly rejected it and proudly claimed that not even the Federal Government had the power to force them to comply with wage requirements. They asserted that despite efforts by unions to engage in discussions with certain construction company executives, their attempts were met with refusal.
As claimed by sources, employers in Nigeria’s construction industry have been criticised for rejecting dialogue and opting for a confrontational stance instead. In light of this situation, workers associated with NUCECFWW and CCESSA have united to assert control over their fate under the industry’s umbrella. They are now urging employers to honour the wage award agreement and uphold its principles and significance. According to them, if there are any additional delays, workers in the construction sector will have no choice but to take immediate industrial action to emphasise their demands.
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Moreover, Nigeria, known for its varied population and abundant riches offered by nature, has long been acknowledged as a country with tremendous promise. The construction industry has served as a vital force in converting this promise into tangible prosperity, moulding urban landscapes, facilitating inter-town connectivity, and driving economic advancement. The construction sector significantly contributes to a nation’s economic expansion. The government’s keen attention is directed towards the construction industry as it is an investment-driven sector. The industry needs to collaborates with the government to create crucial healthcare, transportation, and education infrastructure.