ALL construction works in the country have been stalled following indefinite strike by workers in the sector, on the platform of National Union of Civil Engineering, Construction Furniture and Wood Workers, NUCECFWW.
The workers are protesting alleged refusal of employers’ body on the aegis of Federation of Construction Industry, FOCI, to abide by the rules of engagement as contained in National Joint Industrial Council, NJIC.
Vanguard gathered that at the expiration of the 2013 agreement where the employers conceded a 39 percent salary increment across board to workers, FOCI had in a letter dated September 1, 2015, asked the union to submit proposal for negotiation based on NIJC.
It was learned that the workers in November 2015 demanded for a 100 percent increase in salaries. After several negotiations, both parties could not agree and there was total breakdown in February, forcing the union to issued a 10-day ultimatum to FOCI to accept and implement the new demand.
FOCI was later accused of reneging and unwilling to improve the welfare of workers despite present economic realities. After the expiration of the ultimatum without alleged positive response from FOCI, the union directed the workers to down tools and began an indefinite strike last week.
Speaking on the ongoing strike, President-General of NUCECFWW, Mr. Amechi Asugwuni, said: “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.”
The strike has already paralysed construction works across the country worsening the deplorable road networks. In Lagos, a labour contractor to one of the major construction companies, told Vanguard on condition of anonymity yesterday that the strike was biting very hard as few workers who had been doing skeletal service when the strike started on Tuesday, had since Friday, joined others in the full blown action.
According to her: “Since Friday, nothing has been happening as the workers have stayed away from work and so, all activities have been stalled. I hope the matter is quickly resolved for us to meet our contract terms.”
But, a manager in one of the companies who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard in Abuja, that the Federal Government and other tiers of government were responsible for the near collapse of the industry.
According to him, “the inability of construction industries to meet up with its contractual obligations to workers is due to the inability of the government to clear the over N600 billion owe construction companies.”