National Industrial Court rules on anti-strike suit filed by a group
We don’t know them, they are not our employers, says Wabba
Adelani Adepegba and Ade Adesomoju
The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, on Thursday, dismissed the ruling of the National Industrial Court restraining them from going on strike beginning from Monday.
The NLC and the TUC stated this after a meeting between the Federal Government and the workers ended in a deadlock on Thursday evening.
Following the hike in electricity tariffs and fuel pump price, the government and the labour unions had met penultimate Tuesday, but the dialogue ended in a deadlock following the failure of the government to reverse the price increase or offer palliatives to cushion the effects on the workers.
The NLC and TUC subsequently declared a strike and protest scheduled to commence on Monday. Both unions said they would collaborate to execute the industrial action for maximum effect.
Rising from a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, the National Executive Council of the NLC comprising the chairpersons of the 36 state chapters and the Federal Capital Territory endorsed the decision earlier taken by the Central Working Committee of the Congress on the strike last Wednesday.
Court stops strike
But the industrial court in Abuja, on Thursday, issued an interim order restraining the unions from embarking on the strike.
Justice Ibrahim Galadima issued the interim order following an ex-parte application filed by a group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association through their counsel, Sunusi Musa.
Justice Galadima ordered the labour unions, their officers and affiliate groups to halt the plan to embark on the strike pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the applicant.
The judge also granted an order of interim injunction restraining the unions from disrupting, restraining, picketing or preventing the workers or ordinary Nigerians from accessing their offices to carry out their legitimate duties on September 28, 2020 or any other date.
The court also granted an order compelling the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General, Department of State Services, to provide protection for workers engaged in their legitimate duties from any form of harassment, intimidation and bullying by the officers, agents or privies of the unions pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Those who obtained order not our employers –NLC
Reacting to the court injunction, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, dismissed it, saying he had not been served, adding that the group that filed the suit was not his employers.
He asked, “How does that (injunction) affect me if I have not been served? Have I been served? Are they our employers? What relationship do I have with any group?”
The meeting between the Federal Government and organised labour meant to avert the planned strike and protest ended in a deadlock.
The meeting, which started at 4.16pm at the Presidential Villa’s Banquet Hall, Abuja, on Thursday, dragged till 9.22pm without a resolution.
But speaking to journalists after the dialogue, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the parties had a fruitful discussion, adding that it was shifted till Monday to conclude the discussions.
He expressed the belief that the unions would heed the government’s plea to suspend their planned strike.
However, the TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, told journalists that the mobilisation of workers for the strike would not be halted, noting that the government failed to reverse or suspend the fuel price hike and electricity tariff adjustment.
He stated, “We were not the one that adjourned the meeting; the government adjourned it till Monday. Monday is the expiration of the ultimatum and we are still very much focused on that. It is a deadlock now.
“Of course, that (adjournment) will not stop the action that has been put in place. We have told them to reverse or to suspend, while the discussion goes on Monday. So, labour is left with no option but to go our way.”
Asked about the offers or concessions made by the government’s team, the union leader said, “We are coming with an open mind to find a solution to the problems in the country, especially on the price hike. They have made their proposal, but we are saying let us suspend or reverse, then we can now continue to discuss but they have adjourned. But labour will continue with the mobilisation of workers.”
Speaking earlier before the closed-door technical session, Ngige said attendance at the dialogue was expanded to include the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and others following the declaration of strike and protest by the labour centres.
Other officials in attendance included the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and the Minister of State, Labour, Festus Keyamo (SAN).