FG to Falana: Advise NLC against planned strike, it’s violation of court order

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The federal government has insisted that the planned strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) against the removal of the petrol subsidy and the high cost of living in the country is a violation of an existing court order.

 

On Wednesday, NLC issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to reverse all “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies.

 

The policies, the union said, include the recent hike in the price of petrol, and the sudden increase in public school fees, among others.

 

However, the federal government said the union is restrained by an order of the national industrial court from embarking on any strike regarding the removal of petrol subsidy.

 

Commenting on the issue, Femi Falana, a human writes lawyer, said the strike action does not translate into contempt of court.

 

In a letter addressed to Beatrice Jedy-Agba, solicitor-general of the federation, Falana said the court or any other organ had not granted an order of interim, interlocutory or perpetual injunction restraining Nigerian workers from participating in peaceful rallies convened by the NLC.

 

He argued that it is the constitutional right of workers to protest peacefully.

 

However, in another letter on Monday, the solicitor-general asked Falana to advise the union to shelve the planned strike.

 

She said the subject matter which is the major cause of the strike is subjudice.

 

Jedy-Agba also stated that from the communique issued by the NLC, the planned strike goes beyond a peaceful protest as it intends to “ground the government by endangering public peace, instilling fear in 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 are 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.”

 

Jedy-Agba also cited statements by the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) in which they indicated interest to join the 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 labour unions that peaceful protests are no justification for disrupting or shutting down essential services, which is tantamount to strike action.”

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