NLC and TUC launch a nationwide strike – Workers all over the country have been instructed to go on an indefinite strike starting at midnight today by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).
Notwithstanding an injunction issued by the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Abuja prohibiting the NLC, TUC, and its affiliates from engaging in any industrial action, labor decided to go on an indefinite strike.
The walkout is in protest of the beating of Joe Ajaero, the president of the NLC, and others on November 1 in Owerri, Imo State, as well as the ongoing labor disputes in the region.
On November 7, they decided that if their demands were not met, they would call for a nationwide strike by Tuesday, November 14.
Other grievances of Organized Labor include unpaid salary arrears, the unfair designation of 11,000 workers as ghost employees, unpaid gratuities, noncompliance with the N30,000 minimum wage act, and the designation of 10,000 pensioners as ghost retirees, in addition to the brutalization of the NLC President, other labor leaders, and journalists.
Remember that along with others, alleged state agents and security personnel had descended on Ajaero.
They damaged the labor leaders’ cars, hurting them and taking away their goods, including phones, cash, and ATM cards.
They had assembled at the NLC state secretariat in anticipation of the planned November 1 protest regarding the outstanding labor concerns.
There was the president of the NLC, together with other national officials from the NLC and their TUC equivalents.
Outrage and criticism have persisted throughout the nation and abroad in response to the attack, brutalization, and battering of Ajaero and others.
The decision by Organized Labour to proceed with the planned strike came after today’s emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) in Abuja.
NLC and TUC launch a nationwide strike
Speaking on behalf of the two labor centers, TUC President Festus Osifo declared that the strike will continue until the government at all levels wakes up to its responsibilities.
He stated: “We demanded that the Area Commander that led the Police to carry out the brutalization should be relieved of his duties and prosecuted.”
“We asked also that Governor Hope Uzodinma’s Special Adviser, SA, on Special Duties, Chinasa Nwaneri, who everyone knew led the touts, should also be arrested and prosecuted.
“Our list of demands is in the public domain.
“We gave an ultimatum that initially expired Wednesday last week. But on the eve of that expiration, we had a joint session of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria.
“We looked at the time we gave and felt as responsible pan Nigeria organizations, that we should give additional one week to see if the government would be responsive.
“And to further draw the attention of government we had the picketing session last week Thursday but instead of government to come out strongly to condemn this criminality, instead of government to speak and stand on the side of justice, some people in government were rather running their mouths and making all kinds of statements.
“So the two labour centers have resolved to stand firmly by the decision of the joint National Executive Council meeting that was held last week Tuesday, that effective from 12 midnight on the 14th of November, we shall declare a nationwide strike.
“So effective midnight today, a nationwide strike is going to commence.
“All affiliates of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and Nigeria Labour Congress, all State Councils of the two labour centers have been mobilized adequately. And this is going to be indefinite until government at all levels wakes up to its responsibility.
“This is the decision of the joint NEC of NLC and TUC and we are to carry it out to the latter.”
The court forbade the strike
In the meantime, the NLC and TUC were prevented from carrying out their planned nationwide strike on November 14 by the National Industrial Court, or NIC, which was sitting in Abuja last Friday.
The Federal Government filed an ex-parte application through the office of Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, and the court issued the ruling in response.
Justice Benedict Kanyip, the president, delivered the decision.
The court based its ruling on the Act’s Sections 17 and 19, stating that it was authorized to become involved in the labor unions’ and FG’s disagreement.
In response, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, issued a warning that the labor unions’ strike action would be “tantamount to contempt of court” in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Communication & Publicity, Mr. Kamarudeen Ogundele.
According to the AGF, FG had since served copies of a restraining order from the National Industrial Court to the NLC and the TUC, prohibiting them from carrying out the planned strike action.
“We wish to remind the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress that there is a subsisting court order stopping the unions and their affiliates from embarking on the strike.
“The interim order was granted on November 10 by the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice B. B. Kanyip.
“The unions have been served the court order and, therefore, must surrender themselves to the authority of the court which is already seized with the facts of the case.
“Any action taken contrary to the order will be tantamount to contempt of court.
“We use this medium to urge the unions to respect the court order and adhere to the principle of the rule of law. There is no need to resort to self-help.
“We urge workers to report for duties and not to entertain any fear as their safety is guaranteed and will be protected within the ambit of law,” the statement further read.
Workers nationwide were instructed by labor unions to go on an indefinite walkout starting at midnight to protest the attack and mistreatment of NLC President Joe Ajaero in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1st, along with other unresolved labor-related concerns.