Despite a courts order, leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) have restated their resolve to embark on a nationwide strike from November 6 except the federal government accedes to the N30, 000 new minimum wage demand.
It would be recalled that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria had on Friday, November 2, restrained the organised labour embarking on its planned strike slated to start on November 6.
Justice Sanusi Kado gave the ruling in an ex parte application moved on behalf of the federal government by the solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary, federal ministry of justice, Mr. Dayo Apata.
The judge ruled that should the strike begin, it would lead to huge economic loss to both public and private institutions and could jeopardise the health of many Nigerians who would not be able to access health facilities during the period.
But the the labour leaders who boycotted a meeting organised by the federal government to resolve the impasse occasioned by the agitation for the approval of the new wage regime insisted that the N30, 000 agreed at the Tripartite Committee should be implemented otherwise the strike would go on as planned.
They urged workers and allies in the civil society to remain steadfast and unwavering in the collective quest for justice for workers and the masses.
They also alleged that the federal government had planned to clamp down on them.
In a statement jointly signed by Messrs Ayuba Wabba, Bobboi Kaigama and Joe Ajaero, presidents of NLC, TUC and ULC respectively, the labour leaders said they had uncovered a plot to invoke the ‘no work, no pay’ clause to threaten the workers and frustrate the strike.
“The Joint Central Working Committee (JCWC) similarly condemns government for its design/plan to clamp down on labour via selective and erroneous invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act, noting that the right to strike is both a human and trade union rights and cannot be abridged as it is what distinguishes a worker from a slave.
“There is nothing new about this clause as it has been in our statutes for over 40 years. The Joint CWC urges every worker in Nigeria and our allies in the civil society to remain steadfast and unwavering in our collective quest for justice for ourselves and for the masses of our people. ‘’Organised Labour will not be cowed or deterred from fighting for our rights through any frivolous and mischievous court action and processes.
“In line with our resolve to ensure total compliance with the nationwide strike, the Joint CWC also directs that the strike of November 6, 2018 should be complemented by daily picketing by workers all over the country,” they said in the statement.
But the federal government responded saying there was no such plan to clamp down on labour.
The minister of labour and productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige said “there is no such arrangement to my knowledge. The Committee on National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee meeting is slated for tomorrow (today).”
As reported by NewsGazette yesterday, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and aviation unions including the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) have issued notices of joining the strike.
Similarly, the umbrella body for pro-workers’ civil society groups, under the aegis of Joint Action Front (JAF) has endorsed the planned industrial action.
In a statement issued in Lagos and signed by its chairman and secretary, Dr. Dipo Fashina and Mr. Abiodun Aremu, respectively, JAF: “The current demand for a new national minimum wage has gone beyond the stage of negotiation, hence the N30,000 agreed at the Tripartite Committee, which is even very poor (@ US$83 per month, compared to 1981 minimum wage of N125 @ US$250), represents an irreducible minimum and, therefore, not negotiable.
“What is clear today from the unnecessary tensions being generated in the polity by the APC’s government and its officials is that none of the 36 state governors and the Federal Government, irrespective of political parties (APC, PDP and APGA), like in past struggles for upward review of wage, is committed to pay the minimum wage without being compelled by struggle to do so.”
Additional report from Vanguard