Nigerians have been placed on high alert as banks, telecom workers, electricity workers, and other essential sectors have resolved to join the NLC strike and embark on a two-day demonstration. However, a banker has confirmed to Technext that digital channels will remain accessible during the 48-hour industrial action.
Speaking to Technext, Aris, a Sterling Bank staff told Technext that some employees will still be assigned to carry out skeletal operations but even those would be time-specific. He went on to assure that all digital channels will remain open nevertheless.
“We will still run skeletal operations because we don’t intend to punish our customers. This means our engineers will still ensure our digital channels are running smoothly during the strike period. However, ATM machines might not work because hoodlums might take advantage of the situation to attack facilities,” he said.
He therefore advised anybody in need of cash to ensure to withdraw some today to avoid being stranded in the two days ahead.
Banks, telos and electric workers to join NLC strike
In the wake of a notice by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), employees operating in the banking, insurance, telecom and power sectors have vowed to join the NLC strike. The demonstration is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, September 5 2023, and terminate on Wednesday, September 6 2023. This is an effort to call the government’s attention to the growing economic hardship in the country.
In a letter signed by Mohammed I. Sheikh, The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institution Employees instructed financial institutions to cease operations during the aforementioned period. This directive obeys the order given by the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) on August 31.
The union of financial institutions blamed the government for failing to tackle the challenges plaguing the economy. Instead of striving to accelerate the economy’s recovery, the union claimed the government preferred to meddle in the affairs of unions.
“The directive is imperative to get the needed attention of the government and warn it of its newfound love of meddling in the internal affairs of unions rather than address the punishing economic circumstances we find ourselves. We hereby direct all our organs to comply with this directive by ensuring all our members stay off duty for two days. Your cooperation in this regard will be appreciated,” part of the union’s memo said.
Aside from financial institutions, telco staff and electricity workers have announced their compliance with the NLC strike notice. It is worth mentioning that the NLC also plans to commence a nationwide shutdown of activities within 14 working days or 21 days from August 31, 2023.
Speaking for the telcos, Okonu Abdullahi, the General Secretary of the Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN) said they would comply with the strike notice. “We operate in a very sensitive sector. What will happen for now is that because it will be a warning strike, any fault that occurred within the two days will not be attended to,” he said.
Similarly, Dominic Igwebike, the interim General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Workers (NUEE), affirmed support for the labour union’s directive.
Potential effects of the strike order
Admittedly, Nigerians have experienced increased difficulties thanks to the recent policies of the new administration. While intended to transform the economy and steer it towards recovery, Nigerians have had to grapple with higher transport costs, petrol pump prices, and lots more.
If the NLC strike goes on as planned with support from the aforementioned unions, Nigerians will face more difficulties. Consider the telecom sector. By maintaining the sector’s infrastructure, customers can access quality services.
If they become unavailable, and say, a fault occurs without anybody to tend to it, the affected area may suffer poor network for days. Additionally, this will cause discontent among users. Businesses, especially the small-scale types, will crumble. The same applies to electricity and the financial services sector.
Even with alternatives like Opay and PalmPay available for customers, the importance of traditional banks being available cannot be overemphasized. Essentially, a two-day strike action will greatly damage the economy for everyone.