Wabba’s NLC, TUC insist on strike; say court order is black market injunction

Ajaero’s faction, FG set up committee on price, minimum wage.  
The National Industrial Court, NIC, sitting in Abuja, yesterday, stopped the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Unions Congress, TUC, from embarking on strike  today. This came as Organised Labour and its civil society allies, yesterday, vowed to go ahead with the planned indefinite strike from today to make government reverse the N145 per litre pump price of petrol, despite the restraining order by the court.
Meanwhile, Senate, yesterday, threw its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s hike in the price of fuel to N145 per litre from N86.50 Organised Labour’s position came on a day president of a faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and others would not join the strike. Consequently, the Wabba faction and the Federal Government, yesterday, agreed to set up a joint technical committee to review the new fuel pump price template of N135-N145 within the next two weeks and also work towards reviewing the current national minimum wage of N18, 000. President of the National Industrial Court, NIC, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, in a ruling, yesterday, restrained the labour unions from going on strike, pending the determination of a suit the federal government lodged before it. Justice Adejumo further ordered all the parties to maintain status quo until the legal dispute was settled. The order followed an ex-parte application filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN. Determined to abort the planned strike action, the AGF approached the NIC, begging it to restrain the labour unions from “shutting down the nation”. Relying on Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the Federal Government insisted that it would not be “in the national interest” for the NLC and TUC to proceed on nationwide strike over the fuel price increase. Malami argued that no amount of damages could serve as compensation, if the labour unions were allowed to shut down the economy. Contending that the balance of convenience was in favour of the government, the AGF prayed the court to determine “whether the respondents (NLC, TUC) have complied with the laid-down condition precedent for embarking on strike.” The AGF also prayed the court to determine “whether, indeed, there exists in law and, in fact, the basis of which the respondents’ total closure of the economy can be justified”. He told the court that the respondents met on Saturday and issued a communique wherein they gave government a three-day ultimatum to reverse the decision increasing fuel price. He said the respondents, aside from threatening to shut down the country, if government failed to reverse the fuel price increase, also threatened to close down all government offices, seaports, airports and markets. The AGF argued that ordinary and law-abiding citizens would be subjected to hardship, if the respondents were allowed to go ahead with their threat. He said the government was left with no alternative but to seek the intervention of the court. Besides, Malami told the court that he got notice of the communique on Sunday and quickly filed an originating summons, a motion on notice and an ex-parte application to determine whether NLC’s decision was justified in the circumstance. He insisted that “great and irreparable damage” would be done against the nation and “ordinary and law-abiding citizens”, should the court refuse the ex-parte application. Though neither NLC nor TUC was represented in court, Justice Adejumo granted the ex-parte motion, even as he ordered the service of all the relevant court processes on the respondents. The restraining order against the respondents will lapse after seven days. However, Organised Labour and its civil society allies, incensed by government’s decision to seek rederess at the NIC in the midst of a negotiation, yesterday, vowed to go ahead with the planned indefinite strike from today to make government reverse the N145 per litre pump price of petrol.

Source: vanguard