FG Accuses NLC Of Violating Court Order With Planned Strike Over Petrol Subsidy Removal
Labor Unions Defiant as Federal Government Accuses NLC of Defying Court Order with Planned Strike
The federal government has vehemently opposed the planned strike by the NLC against the removal of petrol subsidy and the rising cost of living in the country.
The NLC, on Wednesday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government, demanding the reversal of what they referred to as “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies. These policies encompassed the recent surge in petrol prices and the sudden escalation of public school fees, among other grievances.
However, the federal government is standing firm, citing an order from the national industrial court that bars the NLC from initiating any strike concerning the removal of the petrol subsidy. According to government representatives, the court order explicitly restrains the NLC from engaging in any industrial action on this particular matter.
In response to the government’s stance, prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, contested the notion that the planned strike constitutes contempt of court.
In a letter addressed to Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the solicitor-general of the federation, Falana argued that there is no court injunction preventing Nigerian workers from participating in peaceful rallies organized by the NLC. He emphasized that peaceful protests are well within the constitutional rights of the workers.
In contrast, the solicitor-general urged Falana to advise the union to abandon their proposed strike, claiming that the subject matter under contention is subjudice, i.e., a matter before the court and yet to be determined.
Jedy-Agba further contended that the NLC’s intent to call a nationwide strike goes beyond a peaceful protest, alleging that it could potentially disrupt public peace and create fear among the masses.
“We assert that it is grossly inappropriate to lead a public protest in respect of issues relating to or connected with the fuel price increase, which is currently before the court,” she said.
“From the communique, it is apparent that the current move by NLC goes beyond peaceful protest by issuing a seven-day ultimatum for government to meet its demands and also embark on a nationwide action to compel the government to reverse alleged anti-worker policies.
“Furthermore, uncontroverted media reports have established that NLC is not planning a peaceful protest but intends to ground the government by endangering public peace, instilling fear in the masses, precipitating a further crisis.”
She also referenced statements made by the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), which indicated their intentions to join the NLC’s strike action.
“We reiterate that the interim order clearly restrained NLC from embarking on industrial action of any nature,” the solicitor-general stated.
“It is common knowledge that a strike is only a form of industrial action. NLC has expressed the intention to embark on a nationwide action to force the government (employer) to agree to its demands.
“Furthermore, the participation of workers in the protest will result in restriction or limitation on or a delay in the performance of work.
“The foregoing, inclusive of the purported peaceful protest (in view of its intended aims or purposes), undoubtedly amounts to industrial action. It is incumbent on your law firm to sensitize the labor unions that peaceful protests are no justification for disrupting or shutting down essential services, which is tantamount to strike action.”
The issue has generated heated debates, with labor unions and civil rights groups rallying behind the NLC’s right to peacefully protest. They argue that it is essential to uphold the rights of workers to voice their concerns and demands for better living conditions.
As the clock ticks down toward the ultimatum’s expiration, tension is rising between the NLC and the government. Citizens anxiously await the resolution of this dispute, hoping for an outcome that addresses their concerns while maintaining peace and stability in the country.