“Fuel Subsidy Strike: Nigeria Labour Congress Explains Suspension of Planned Nationwide Protest”
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has provided an explanation for the suspension of its planned nationwide strike against the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government. The strike was called off in compliance with a court order from the National Industrial Court (NiC) that restrained the Labour from proceeding with the strike.
Justice O. Y. Anuwe issued the order in response to a motion presented by the Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), represented by Mrs. Maimuna Lami Shiru, Director of Civil Litigation at the Federal Ministry of Justice.
In addition to the court order, the NLC decided to suspend the strike to facilitate uninterrupted negotiations and to potentially reach a final agreement during or after the upcoming negotiation round with the Federal Government scheduled for June 19.
These decisions were conveyed in a joint communique signed by NLC President Joe Ajaero and General Secretary Emmanuel Ugboaja following an emergency National Executive Council meeting held in Abuja on Tuesday.
The strike notice was issued by the NLC after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared the end of fuel subsidy in his inauguration address. This announcement prompted immediate reactions from petrol marketers, who shut down filling stations and increased product prices.
Justice O. Y. Anuwe’s order will remain in effect until a motion on notice dated June 5 is heard and determined. The judge cited the argument made by the Federal Government’s lawyer that the strike, if allowed, would cause significant damage to the nation as the basis for her decision.
The NLC expressed dissatisfaction with the NIC’s ruling, criticizing its continuous use of ex-parte injunctions favoring the government’s interests over those of Nigerian workers, contrary to the position of the Supreme Court on the use of such injunctions.
As a result of these developments, the NLC has instructed all its affiliates and state councils to suspend further action and mobilization until the outcome of the final negotiations with the federal government is determined.
The communique reads: “An emergency National Executive Council (NEC) of the Congress which was called to discuss the outcome of the Dialogue between the NLC and the Federal Government on the Petroleum Products Price hike after extensive deliberation observed that:
“Whereas the previous NEC-in-Session had ordered a nationwide withdrawal of Service and mass protest over the Petroleum Price hike by the federal government;
“Whereas the federal government was in breach of the 2023 Appropriation Act, the NLC will not encourage lawlessness on its part;
“Taking into account that the federal government has procured a Court injunction restraining Congress from proceeding with the proposed nationwide strike as the NEC-in-session had ordered to begin, Wednesday, the 7th of June, 2023;
“Recognising the willingness of government for continuous engagement through dialogue and to offer reasonable palliatives in due course to cushion the effect of its policies and some levels of understanding reached
“Considering the mood of the Socio-polity last elections and the need to pursue national stability and;
“Consequently, the NEC-in-session resolved as follows; to commend and applaud the diligence of the Congress’ leadership in carrying out the assignment given to it by NEC.
“To demonstrate to the federal government the need to comply with the Laws of the land especially as it concerns obedience to the rulings of the Courts and their brazen disregard to the 2023 Appropriation Act
“To therefore support and accept the decision of the leadership of Congress to suspend the proposed strike action in compliance with the flawed rulings of the NIC and also allow negotiations to flow freely and enable final agreement during or after the 19th June, 2023 negotiation round with the federal government
“To however register in strongest terms its disgust and disapproval with the ruling of the National Industrial Court (NIC) for its continuous weaponization of the instrument of Exparte injunction in favour of Government against the interests of Nigerian workers in defiance of the position of the Supreme Court on the use of this instrument.
“All Affiliates and State Councils of Congress are hereby directed to suspend further action and mobilisation until the outcome of the final negotiations.
“To commend all Affiliates and State Councils on their robust mobilisation towards a successful nation-wide strike action and to also remain vigilant in case there is a need to continue,” the communique added. (Courtesy, excluding headline, The Nation)
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