FG, labor talks hit deadlock, NLC goes on strike on August 14 in the #SubsidyProtests

Aug 4, 2023 - 15:05
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FG, labor talks hit deadlock, NLC goes on strike on August 14 in the #SubsidyProtests

The agreement between organized labor and the Federal Government to end their protests was reached only 24 hours after meeting with President Bola Tinubu, but on Thursday night, the unions threatened to go on a nationwide strike starting on August 14 if their leaders were called in for violating court orders.

 The Federal Ministry of Justice's Wednesday contempt of court application against the labor leaders served as the basis for the Nigeria Labour Congress's decision.

If the Federal Government does not drop the lawsuit charging the labor leadership of defying court orders, it has threatened to lay off employees.

After the union's National Executive Council meeting on Thursday night, NLC President Joe Ajaero made the announcement.

In an effort to prevent a labor movement strike last month, the FG had, through the Federal Ministry of Justice, obtained an order from the National Industrial Court prohibiting the National Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress from taking any strike action over issues relating to "removal of fuel subsidy, hike in petrol prices, and consequential increase in cost of living," pending the outcome of the suit.

In a statement, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the Federal Ministry of Justice's Permanent Secretary and the Solicitor-General of the Federation, urged the NLC to revoke the seven-day notice it had issued regarding its intention to start a nationwide strike on August 2 if labor union demands were not met.

The justice ministry issued a strong caution.

In light of the fact that the case was already pending in court, the FG said that such a strike action would amount to a self-help measure.

However, the organized labor announced

a nationwide demonstration despite the court's order because they were frustrated by the FG's tardy response to their negotiations and the holdup in implementing palliative measures to ease the pain of subsidy elimination.

Femi Falana, SAN, a lawyer in Lagos and solicitor to organized labor, claimed that the scheduled protest was legitimate.

Due to the widespread economic and commercial paralysis caused by the protests on Wednesday, some states' banks, offices, and courts were forced to close.

The Federal Government on Wednesday started a contempt of court prosecution against the labor leaders as retaliation for their defiance, which infuriated the unions.

The National Industrial Court in Abuja received the "Form 48" "notice of consequences of disobedience to order of the court."

The Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation are the applicants, and the various organized labor leaders are the respondents.

The warning was sent to the following individuals: TUC President Festus Usifo, General Secretary Nuhu Toro, Deputy Presidents Audu Aruba, Adeyanju Adewale, and Kabiru Sani, General Secretary Emmanuel Ugboaja, and NLC President Joe Ajaero.

The contempt notice, which was signed by Senior Registrar Balogun Olajide, stated, "Take notice that unless you obey the directives contained in the Order of the National Industrial Court, Abuja, delivered by Honourable Justice Y. Anuwe on June 5th 2023, as per the attached Enrolled Order, you will be guilty of Contempt of Court and will be liable to be sentenced to prison.

In response, the NLC President said in a statement on Thursday that the National Industrial Court and Ministry of Justice had continued to "enable themselves to be utilized as agents of

Ajaero emphasized the decisions of the NLC and stated that the NEC resolved to support and endorse the decision to halt future statewide protests while resolving to maintain the necessary vigilance to keep the government responsible for its promises and governance in general.

Given the promises of the President and the National Assembly, the union further decided to commit to the final deadline of August 19, within which the concerns surrounding the increase in the price of gasoline would be agreed.

The statement continued, "To demand the immediate withdrawal of this litigious terrorism by the Federal Ministry of Justice before any day labor leaders are called before a court by the government through the NICN 5; To go on total strike across the country any day

Falana, SAN, the attorney for Organized Labor, pleaded with the President to summon the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice to account for the contempt charges brought against the labor union.

He added that the NLC had not in any way broken any agreements it had made with the President about the halting of the protests around the country.

According to Falana, who spoke with our correspondent in an interview on Thursday night, his client had already contested the ex parte ruling that the justice ministry had received from the National Industrial Court.

Labor is not in violation of any agreements, the human rights attorney declared. When a ministry representative left the room to bring contempt charges, they were in the middle of a meeting with the president.

"Would the president have met with organized labor if they were treated with contempt? Would the cops have joined them on the march? She (Jeddy-Agba) understands she can't be talking about contempt of court until our motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court and competence of the ex parte order is taken since we have questioned the jurisdiction of the court and the competency of the ex parte order.

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