The National Industrial Court of Nigeria yesterday ordered the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) not to embark on their planned indefinite strike scheduled to commence on November 6.
The court headed by Justice Sanusi Kado gave the order in a ruling on an ex parte application brought before it on behalf of the federal government by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and permanent secretary in Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata.
The judge said the order of interim injunction became necessary due to the urgency of the matter and the need to protect the overall interest of the public.
Accordingly, he fixed November 8 as return date in the case and warned the governors of the 36 states of the federation, joined in the suit as 3rd defendant under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), not to do anything that would adversely affect the interest of their workforce pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Justice Kado directed that the order stopping the planned strike be immediately served on both the NLC and TUC.
He ruled: “In view of all that I have been saying above, it is the overall interest of justice and stability of the society to grant the order of interim injunction against the 1st and 2nd defendants (NLC and TUC), their members, privies, agents, proxies, workmen, or servants from embarking on or taking part in the planned strike or industrial action scheduled to commence on November 6, 2018, in whatever form pending the hearing or determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction, which is pending before the court.
“It is also necessary to grant an order of interim injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants (NLC and TUC), their members, privies, agents, proxies, employees, workmen, or servants from engaging or taking part in any conduct or act in contemplation or furtherance of the strike or industrial action scheduled to commence on November 6, 2018, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
The suit marked NICN/ABJ/287/2018 was filed on November 1, 2018 in the name of the federal government and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as the 1st and 2nd claimants respectively.
Joined in the suit as the 1st to the 3rd defendants are the NLC, the TUC and body of the governors of the 36 states of the federation, the NGF.
While moving the ex parte application on Friday, Apata argued that if the planned strike by the labour was not stopped, it would adversely affect the economy with likely effect of plunging the nation back to recession.
He also argued that the strike would not only jeopardise the health of those who would be seeking to access to health facilities, but also negatively affect many internally displaced people being held in various camps as a result of the recent flooding that hit many states.
Agreeing with Apata, Justice Kado ruled that the strike, if allowed, would put the nation’s economy, health and rights of people in jeopardy.
He added that the strike, if allowed to proceed, would destroy the status quo and the subject matter of the suit.
He said, “The affidavit evidence has equally stated that the people living in the IDPs will be adversely affected by the strike as there will be no movement during the strike due to the withdrawal of services more particularly in the petroleum sector.
“The impact of the strike will be too devastating to the economy and thereby affect developmental goals. There is also the fear that the country may slump back to recession if the strike occurs.”
Justifying the order, the judge said, “The order of interim injunction is due to the urgency of the application and the desire to prevent economic loss to both public and private institutions and also to protect the fundamental rights of the general public.
“I am afraid that if the strike is allowed to proceed as planned, there will be a lot of people who will not be able to access medical facilities, and even where they can access the medical facilities, medical personnel may not be there to attend to them.
“Even the patients currently in hospitals may likely develop more complications due to lack of presence of medical facilities to attend to their needs.
“The 3rd defendant, NGF, being one of the major stakeholders in the labour industry, should also not do anything that will in any way adversely affect the interest of their workforce, pending the hearing and determination of this suit.
“This case is adjourned to November 8, 2018 for the hearing of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction. All the parties concerned should be immediately served with this order of court”.
We Are Not Aware Of Any Injunction – Labour
But the organised labour yesterday said it was not aware of any court injunction stopping its members from embarking on any strike action.
It insisted on embarking on the nationwide strike by Tuesday in protest of the non-implementation of N30, 000 as the new national minimum wage.
The organised labour reiterated its position that any figure below N30, 000 would not be acceptable to the workers.
Addressing journalists in Lagos after a joint meeting with other labour union comprising Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC), the president of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, called on its members to mobilise in preparation for the commencement of an indefinite strike on November 6, unless necessary steps are taken to adopt the recommendation of the Tripartite Committee.
Wabba said the organised labour would maintain its stand on the implementation of N30,000 as the new minimum wage and would not accept any move to negotiate it downwards.
He said barring any change of position by government, members of the organised labour would proceed with the planned strike on Tuesday.
Wabba also attempted to correct the impression that there was a stalemate during the tripartite negotiations, insisting that the issue of N30,000 minimum wage was conclusively resolved and the report signed.
He called on the chairman of the committee to submit the report to the presidency for immediate implementation.
On his part, the president of United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, said, “We are not aware of any court ruling and we have not being 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) here 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”.
President of TUC, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, also said the centre 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 noted.
Recently, the NGF issued a communiqué after its meeting noting that state governors can only pay N22, 500 as the new national minimum wage.
Resolution Of Minimum Wage Will Resume Tomorrow- FG
The minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said yesterday that conciliation on the national minimum wage will continue despite the injunction of the National Industrial Court restraining the organized labour from embarking on strike.
The minister, in a statement by the director press in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere, said that the conciliation meeting involving the organised labour, the organized private sector and government scheduled for Sunday November 4, 2018 at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation by 6:00pm is still on course and will hold.
This, he said, would be followed on Monday November 5, 2018 by 11:00am by the meeting of the national tripartite minimum wage committee at the same venue
The minister, again, appealed to all tripartite members to attend the meetings in the interest of the nation.
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