Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) President Joe Ajaero was beaten and arrested November 1 as workers rallied to protest unpaid wages in Imo state in southeastern Nigeria. Police reportedly beat Ajaero and assaulted protesting workers with machetes and confiscated their mobile devices. Some NLC and Nigeria Trade Union Congress members who attended the rally say they have not been paid for up to 20 months. Ajaero was released from police custody to a hospital because of his injuries.
Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau offered this statement:
“The Solidarity Center joins calls by the Nigeria Labor Congress and the Nigeria Trade Union Congress in condemning the assaults on NLC President Joe Ajaero and the workers who rightfully stood up to receive the pay that they worked for and deserve. Violence and bloodshed have no place in the democratic exercise of the freedom to peacefully gather. The fundamental right of workers to be paid what they are owed is one of the bedrock principles of democratic societies. Efforts to intimidate workers and their elected leaders through brutal attacks must be called out for what they are: violations of fundamental human rights as guaranteed by international conventions and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, all of which the Nigerian government has signed.”
Our thoughts are with Joe Ajaero and all those injured as we call for justice to the perpetrators of these crimes.”