The nationwide strike by workers planned for Wednesday over the lingering problem of cash supply by banks was called off because the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has yielded significant improvement, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said.
The President of the central labour movement, Joe Ajaero, said a review of the reaction of the management of the CBN towards the call for the strike action informed the decision to suspend the proposed nation-wide strike and picketing of the Headquarters and offices of the CBN across the nation.
“Recall that we (NLC) called for the strike based on the unfortunate, ill-conceived and poorly executed currency redesign policy of the CBN which brought untold sufferings on the people and workers across the length and breadth of the federation.
“The situation had degenerated to the extent that citizens were forced to spend on the average about 30% of their income to access their hard-earned cash leading to the emergence of trade by barter as an option in some communities around the nation.
“It was these objective realities and seeming reluctance of the federal government through its institutions especially the CBN to take steps to end the ensuing mass misery that compelled us to issue the ultimatum to assist government to act more responsibly and ease the burden on Nigerians,” Ajaero said.
He said following the ultimatum, the apex bank immediately engaged the leadership of the NLC, which demanded for certain measures be taken to make cash available to all Nigerians.
The Labour leader said some of the measures included its insistence on the CBN to demand all banks to provide full banking services to customers on Saturdays and Sundays until a healthy cash situation was restored.
He said the weekend services would help expend and deepen the CBN’s sorting and issuing operations to release cash to all Bank branches across the nation.
Ajaero disclosed since the engagement with the CBN, the NLC held two sessions of its National Executive Council (NEC) to discuss the issues and review the level of compliance with the demands by the CBN to make Cash available to Nigerians irrespective of their locations.
He said during its meeting Tuesday, NEC received live reports from all the states of the federation and local governments on the cash situation in their respective locations.
Based on these reports, he said NEC noted that the CBN made significant efforts to curb the current cash scarcity throughout the country, a development that, to some extent, complied with the demands of Labour.
Other observations by NEC included that several banks had complied with the CBN directive to embark on the weekend banking, resulting in the improved availability of cash noticed in the major urban centres across the country.
Although he said some bank branches remained shut to the public, particularly in rural communities and towns where cash scarcity persists, the banks have however continued to ration access to cash thus limiting financial transactions
With normalcy not completely restored, as long queues were still visible to allow cash flow seamlessly, he said the leadership of the various affiliates of the NLC, including the Trade Union Congress (TUC), were holding discussions over the issue with a view finding lasting solutions.
Part of the resolutions, he said, was for the proposed nationwide strike to be suspended since there was significant improvement in the availability of cash across the country.
Meanwhile, the movement urged the CBN to ensure that total normalcy was restored to cash availability within the next two weeks, warning that the NLC would embark on nationwide strike without warning if the cash situation degenerates further.
To monitor the exercise and ensure sustainable compliance by the CBN towards ending the cash crunch and removing the siege on Nigerians, Ajaero announced the setting up of a Joint Committee at the National and State levels
“We want to assure Nigerians that though there are other critical issues confronting us as a people, we are continuously committed to making sure that we roll back all anti-workers and peoples policies of the government,” he said.