Fresh on­slaught against labour strikes

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - APPOINTMENTS - From Collins Olayinka, Abuja

AS the drum of an­other na­tional strike gets louder, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has taken two steps to show its readi­ness to re­duce in­dus­trial ac­tion to the barest min­i­mum.

In­deed, labour sec­tor watch­ers say the threat to ap­ply ‘no work, no pay’ and ap­proach­ing the Na­tional In­dus­trial Court (NIC), to stop the or­gan­ised labour strike over the stop­page of the ne­go­ti­ated N30, 000 as the new min­i­mum wage, shows the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is de­ter­mined to gag labour unions in the coun­try.

But labour is hav­ing none of that.

This is not the first time the Gov­ern­ment would be ap­proach­ing the courts to stop labour from call­ing out its mem­bers on strike. For­mer Pres­i­dent of the Nige­ria Labour Con­gress (NLC), Adams Osh­iom­hole, was re­ported to have de­scribed such judg­ment as ‘black mar­ket’ rul­ing that is strange and an­ti­thet­i­cal to labour rights of the Nige­rian work­ers.

The deputy Pres­i­dent of the NLC, Peters Adeyemi, sim­ply dis­missed the ‘no work, no pay’ pol­icy as a gim­mick gov­ern­ment al­ways came up with in an at­tempt to pre­vent labour from re­sist­ing un­friendly labour poli­cies and fail­ure to hon­our agree­ments.

His ex­pla­na­tion: “No work, no pay is a gim­mick that gov­ern­ment nor­mally adopts when they are not will­ing to re­spond to the yearn­ings and as­pi­ra­tions of the work­ers. We are amazed that gov­ern­ment is talk­ing about no work, no pay at this time when they have re­fused to agree to a new min­i­mum wage, and know­ing that the Nige­rian work­ers are on the verge of em­bark­ing on strike. Gov­ern­ment is never con­scious of its ac­tions, which will read­ily af­fect their for­tunes. How can this come at a time that most state gov­ern­ments are not pay­ing salaries and some in­sti­tu­tions pay­ing salaries in per­cent­ages? How can a gov- ern­ment with good con­science be talk­ing about no work, no pay when they have var­i­ous mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ings signed with unions that have not been im­ple­mented? To me, I think this is a big joke. This clearly of­fends the fun­da­men­tal rights of the peo­ple as en­shrined in our con­sti­tu­tion as well as of­fends ILO con­ven­tions that are rat­i­fied by Nige­ria. For me, it is non­sen­si­cal and un­rea­son­able. No work, no pay notwith­stand­ing, we will con­tinue to fight for our rights.” Adeyemi, who is also the Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the Non-aca­demic Staff Union and As­so­ci­ated In­sti­tu­tions (NASU) in­sisted that ‘no work, no pay’, can­not be ap­plied in a vac­uum.

He added: “Gov­ern­ment can­not cite only a por­tion of the law; it has to take the all the sec­tions of the law on board. As a worker work­ing in Nige­ria, and as a trade union­ist, we are in a war sit­u­a­tion. Any at­tempt to ap­ply no work, no pay se­lec­tively by gov­ern­ment will not hap­pen.”

Apart from the ‘no work, no pay’ ap­proach aimed at dis­cour­ag­ing work­ers from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ac­tion slated for to­day (Tues­day), bar­ring adop­tion of N30, 000 min­i­mum wage, Gov­ern­ment also ap­proached the Na­tional In­dus­trial Court to seek an in­junc­tion to stop the strike.

De­liv­er­ing rul­ing in an ex­parte ap­pli­ca­tion by Jus­tice Kado Sanusi, the court re­strain the Nige­rian Labour Con­gress (NLC) and the Trade Union Con­gress (TUC) from en­gag­ing in the pro- posed strike pend­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the sub­stan­tive suit filed by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion (AGF).

Jus­tice Sanusi also re­strained the NLC, TUC, and the In­cor­po­rated Trustees of the Nige­rian Gov­er­nors Fo­rum, listed as the first to the third de­fen­dants from tak­ing steps ca­pa­ble of de­stroy­ing the sub­ject of the dis­pute.

In grant­ing the ex-parte in­junc­tion, the Judge said he is grant­ing the ex-parte ap­pli­ca­tion as ar­gued by the So­lic­i­tor-gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion (SGF), Dayo Apata, who in­sisted that the strike would in­flict un­told hard­ship on the na­tion, the econ­omy and the Nige­rian peo­ple.

In his re­ac­tion to the fresh twist, Pres­i­dent of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the or­gan­ised labour is not aware of the said court rul­ing.

His words: “We are not aware of any court rul­ing. and we have not been served any no­tice. We have just con­cluded our joint or­gan meet­ings of the Cen­tral Work­ing Com­mit­tees of the Labour Cen­tres of the NLC, Trade Union Con­gress (TUC), and the United Labour Con­gress (ULC), in La­gos.

“The meet­ing is the fi­nal prepa­ra­tion for a full en­gage­ment with the gov­ern­ment on the new na­tional min­i­mum wage and we have taken our de­ci­sion to go on the strike. Our de­ci­sion is to go ahead with the na­tion­wide strike, un­less the gov­ern­ment does the need­ful.” Also, the Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of TUC, Musa Lawal, said the con­gress was not aware of any court rul­ing con­cern­ing the planned strike by or­gan­ised labour.

“We are not aware, be­cause we have not been served any court or­der. We have taken our de­ci­sion, and we are go­ing to stand by that,” he said.

Record shows that since the Nlc-led or­gan­ised labour has been em­bark­ing on strike, which be­came more pop­u­lar dur­ing the Oluse­gun Obasanjo’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as a re­sult of in­ces­sant in­cre­ment in the price of petrol pump price, court or­ders have never stopped labour ac­tion in Nige­ria. This lat­est in­junc­tion is likely to suf­fer same fate.

Voices of re­jec­tion of us­ing court rul­ing to stall the strike have also been re­jected at the state level.

From Kwara State, the state TUC Chair­man, Kola Olu­moh, said the pur­ported NIC rul­ing would not stop the pro­posed na­tion­wide strike.



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