The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have insisted on embarking on their planned industrial action on Monday, September 28, 2020, despite two court orders restraining them.
In a bid to compel the federal government to reverse the recent price of petroleum and electricity tariff, the unions had announced their readiness to mobilise workers for the strike and protest scheduled to commence on Monday.
The Federal Government had on two occasions obtained court orders retraining the labour unions from embarking on the planned strike.
On Thursday, September 24, 2020, Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court had issued an ex-parte order restraining the NLC and TUC from stopping work in whatsoever form in favour of a group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association.
Again on Friday, following an ex parte application by Abubakar Malami, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the same Judge issued another order stopping the labour unions from embarking on strike.
“Upon careful evaluation and consideration of the motion ex parte filed by these claimants/applicants before me on this date, and after perusing the deposition contained in the affidavit in support as well as the affidavit of the urgency, I am convinced that the said application is meritorious and the same is granted as sought.
“Consequently, the order of interim injunction restraining the defendant is hereby granted as sought. The defendants/respondents shall be served within seven days from today (Friday) with the motion on notice as well as the other originating processes for the purpose of determining them by this court.” the judge ruled.
However, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye have said the strike would not be suspended because they have not been served with both court orders.
In a series of text messages to ThePunch, Wabba said, “We have not been served with the order of any court. The right to assemble peacefully and protest is guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution. It’s a universal right; our political elite exercised this right without hindrance.
“It could be recalled that the dialogue between the Federal Government and organised labour ended after 9pm yesterday (Thursday) where the government team adjourned the meeting for consultation.”
He added that “The social media reported a court order obtained by an NGO which we were not served. We are equally not served any court process by the government. I think it’s meant to divert attention from the issues at stake. We have not been put on notice or served any process.”
On his part, Olaleye, the TUC president stressed that the strike would proceed as planned if the dialogue between the unions and the Federal Government scheduled to continue on Monday failed to yield fruits.
Recall that the federal government and the labour unions recently met, but the dialogue ended in a deadlock as the government failed to reverse the price increase or offer palliatives to cushion the effects of the hikes in petroleum and electricity in the country.
However, in its efforts to avert the strike, the government was said to have promised palliatives including mass and affordable housing for workers and procurement of transport buses to help reduce the impact of the rise in fuel price, The Punch reports.
The federal government was also reported to have proposed that the Central Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture would help farmers with loans, including N2.5bn as fresh palliatives to workers on levels one to four.
However, the unions have been advised to consult and reach a consensus with their organs on the government offers before Monday, September 28 2020, when the next rounds of discussions would hold.