Friday, June 22, 2007

The Labour Strike Goes On

For now it seems like neither parties are giving way, so it appears that the strike will go on for some time. The government conceded a N5 decrease in the price of petrol, while the labour unions want the price reverted to the original N65. The increase in VAT from 5% to 10% has been suspended by the government, while the unions want it cancelled permanently.

While many people have not been going to work since Wednesday, some others (who have fuel in their cars or can afford the exhorbitant transport costs) have been. In my office, a handful made it in on Wednesday and even less yesterday. Eventually I had to check in with my manager to see if there was any point people coming in for the rest of the strike. He said with all the difficulties in getting to work, not to bother until the strike was called off.

So today I enjoyed my first full day from my 'strike holiday.' I got up early to go for a walk. I've always envied those people I see walking or running around the estate as I made my way to work in the mornings. Now, I had the opportunity to join them. I met a friend from NYSC as I turned into the street adjacent to mine and together we walked almost to the gate.

I realised that this was a God-sent opportunity to read all those books on my shelves that I have been dying to get started on. I started with Further Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes (I will start with the light stuff and move on to heavier stuff). I dozed off at some point and when I did wake up, I tried to watch TV. So many channels and still there's nothing to watch!

In the afternoon, my brother and I went out to get a few things. We ended up at The Palms shopping mall. From the car park and the activity inside the place, you'd be hard-pressed to believe that there was any kind of strike going on. The mall was filled with people shopping, browsing, watching movies and hanging out. It felt like just another public holiday. My brother gnashed his teeth and muttered incredulously "So this is how we strike?" Well, I guess if people can't go to work, they must do something else ..... The shops must be raking it in.

Back outside, the streets were near empty save for a couple of petrol stations which had queues of cars parked outside in anticipation of whenever they would start selling, which didn't look like anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the black marketers are having a field day. From what should be the new price of petrol of N70 for a litre, the going price is roughly N300 per litre. To describe the situation as scandalous and shameless robbery doesn't even begin to do justice, but as with all things here, people will put all concerns aside and buy if being mobile is a priority to them and if they can afford it.

As the strike goes on, the word is that essential services e.g. electricity and water providers will also go on strike. With our dear PHCN, let's face it, I don't think most people would know the difference between them being on strike and them 'working.' In the last week, we've had public power supply in my house for a grand total of about 20 minutes each day. So please!!!!!! To quote Beyonce, To the left, to the left! The water corporation going on strike is another thing entirely. Having no water for baths, to wash dishes, or clothes, to flush your toilets is not fun. That is a situation that I pray does not happen.

All Africa: Strike - FG, Labour Meeting Deadlocked
BBC News: Nigeria Srike Talks in Deadlock
Guardian: Strike Continues: Labour May Shut Essential Services


laspapi said...

I'm crossing my fingers concerning the strike, Ore. Being able to rest is a plus for me, though. Just lazying around now.

Ore said...

Up so late? I guess you're a night owl like me.

I'm pretty much lazying about too. So far so good, though I was a little bit bored today. I don't want to admit it to myself as I always look forward to days off.....

disgodkidd said...

hi ore. missed u. ofcourse i am in the office.

obyno said...

Happily I have an even better Internet connection at home and in the last three weeks or so accumulated a lot of programming work still in the write and test mode, so I haven't really missed much. Maybe that is why I am still in support of the strike. Then again, maybe I would still be in support of it regardless. Truth is the last eight years have given me some kind of eagle's eye view of the linkage between the sort of arbitrary and surreptitious price increases of the Obasanjo regime's final days and the madness and the terrible, terrible things done in Anambra, Oyo, Osun and so many other places that will forever live in infamy anywhere that government is mentioned. And the underlying theme amongst all of them is the word 'impunity'.
To the sound of the pleas of people demanding reason from the labour side(and queerly remaining silent about the neccessity of same from the government side, as if such a trait is impossible from a constituted authority), what comes to my mind is, "what kind of fire would we be fighting next time?".
Is it not better to make a stand right now? Who knows tomorrow they might start taxing food and Generators etc(that is above the VAT already slapped on them).
Of course the downside of the strike is that I have been generally housebound, more like imprisonment I tell you. On monday I indulged in purchasing black market fuel for something like 2k for each ten litre gallon. Yesterday I drove out and went to the same place and found the price had doubled to 4k. Of course I returned to the house without committing that kind of folly. For me it only underlines the fact that labour succeeds in its quests. Any other outcome would make the all around suffering a bit meaningless.

Wale said...

Ore, I hope that I am wrong, but history tells me that we are not a people that strike works for. Typically what will happen is that those suppposedly leading this rousing call to strike will be "settled" and then life goes on. In the meantime, who do you think is suffering during the strike? who do you think will sufer after the strike? cause the way i see this, at the end of the day the money the government is losing as a result is going to have to be recouped somehow, more than likely that will probably mean halting one program or the other that might benefit the masses. I just feel we need to come up with a better way of dialogueing with government without impacting on the already difficult circumstances by which our people live.