Confusion seems to be the order of the day as employees and workmen from government agencies are undecided as to what definitive action is to be taken following government’s decision to thwart the efforts of Labour unions pushing for nationwide industrial disharmony.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had threatened to shut down all banks, airports, seaports, government offices and markets nationwide in protest of an increase in petrol price without the proportionate implemention of palliative measures.
Negotiations between NLC/TUC representatives and government have yielded no fruits, prompting the Federal Government (FG) to resort to legal actions. FG believes that NLC’s decision to shut down the country would lead to a breakdown in law and order, and cause irreparable damage to national economy, security and corporate existence.
The National Industrial Court, Abuja presided over by Hon. Justice Babatunde Adeniran Ademjumo, OFR, President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Suit No.NICN/ABJ/179/2016 between Federal Government of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation versus Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress (T.U.C) had yesterday granted an Interim Order of Injunction restraining the Defendants/Respondents, their agents, privies, employees, workmen, or servants from embarking on industrial action, demonstrating or engaging in any action that may disrupt the economic activities of the country pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Unfazed by the court injunction, NLC has decided to go on with the planned strike. Their representatives had walked out of a meeting with the government, saying they are mobilising their members for an indefinite strike from today.
The meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and other officials of government was convened in an attempt to broker a last minute truce on the matter.
The NLC had condemned the government’s decision to increase petrol price from N86.50 to N145 per litre, and vowed to resist the policy.
The TUC had also threatened strike, but pulled out of the plan on Tuesday night, deciding instead to give FG two weeks to begin implementation of palliative measures, with increase in minimum wage tabled for discussion.
“It is clear the strike will go ahead as planned,” Mr. Peter Ozo-Eson, General Secretary of the NLC said ahead of the meeting with the government.
The General Executive Secretary of Medical and Health Workers Union, north central, Richard Gbamwuan, also revealed shortly after an emergency NEC meeting of the NLC held in Abuja on Tuesday, that they were going ahead with the proposed strike.
“We have resolved to go ahead with the protest nationwide. As far as we are concerned, we are yet to be aware of any court injunction,” he said.
“And if there is any court injunction, we are just doing what Federal Government is fond of doing. The same Industrial Court had stopped Federal Government from increasing electric tariff but till date Federal Government ignored us, they still went ahead, so we are embarking on the protest.”
In a similar development, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Biodun Ogunyemi has mobilized members of the union for strike and mass action commencing Wednesday to force the Federal Government to revert the pump price from N145 to N86.50.
In a letter sent to members of the congress nationwide and read at
the University of Ibadan Chapter where the Chairman, Dr. Deji Omole mobilized members to get ready for mass resistance to what he called the “obnoxious and callous policy of fuel price increment”.
According to Omole, the policy of subsidy removal was the most
criminal ambush from the Mohammadu Buhari-led federal government to empower the rich and cripple the poor.
The ASUU boss who said that the common denominator to all
Nigerians is poverty added that the same APC government that failed to pay civil servants for months is now celebrating budget signing with the legalization of the black market.
The Secretary General of the Federation (SGF), Engr. Babachir David Lawal, said the government would ensure free movement of persons despite the strike called by the NLC.
The SGF has however released a press statement, warning public workers not to embark on the strike action. He reminded all civil servants of the consequences of breaching court orders.
Read the full press release below:
“The attention of all Public Officers is drawn to the notice issued by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on an indefinite strike from Wednesday, 18th May, 2016. This notice is regrettably given in spite of an Order by the Industrial Court against the strike action.
Government, therefore, calls upon and advises all workers to respect the laws of the land and to desist from participating in an illegal strike action. Government undertakes to guarantee the safety of workers and their work places, and expects that normal work will continue in the interest of the nation.
Accordingly, Security agencies have been directed to ensure unimpeded access to offices, work places and markets. Acts of intimidation, harassment, including barricading of gates, locking up of offices, blocking of roads and preventing workers from carrying out their lawful duties will be met with appropriate response by the law enforcement agencies.
All workers, whether in public or private sector are further reminded of the Trade Dispute Act, 2004, which provides that ‘where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or remuneration for the period of the strike and any such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment and all rights dependent on continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly.’
Accordingly, all Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Government Agencies are hereby directed to invoke the provision of ‘no work no pay’ in respect of any staff who absents him or herself from work to join the strike action. Attendance registers are required to be opened in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies.”
As at the time of filing this report, some banks and government parastatals are yet to decide whether to grant services to customers or not.