ASUU, banks, health workers, others comply with NLC’s strike

SEVERAL affiliate unions have joined the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in the nationwide strike that begins today, Tuesday, November 14.

This was according to a post made by the NLC on its X handle on Tuesday, disclosing the compliance of many of the affiliate unions with the order.

The unions include the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, the Association of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP).

Letter of compliance from ASUU. Photo Credit: NLC/X
Letter of compliance from ASUU. Photo Credit: NLC/X

Others are the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees, the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN), and the National Union of Electricity Employees.

The strike followed the recent attack on the NLC president Joe Ajaero in Imo state when he led other congress members to protest the “non-payment of salaries and pensions for 44 months and violation of other labour rights.”

The NLC blamed the attack on Imo state government and the state Police command.

Following the attack, The ICIR reports that the labour unions declared a total, nationwide strike effective from Tuesday, November 14, 2023, if the Federal Government failed to meet its demands, which include the replacement of the Imo Police Commissioner Mohammed Barde over his alleged involvement in the attack.

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun redeployed Barde shortly after the attack. 

The unions also called for the arrest and prosecution of some of the state Governor Hope Uzodinma’s aides. They threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if their demands were unmet.

On November 1, The ICIR reported the Police allegedly arresting and brutalising Ajaero during the workers’ protest in Owerri, the state capital.

He was reportedly whisked away while addressing the workers at the NLC secretariat over their alleged maltreatment by the state government.

After his release by the Police, the NLC president emerged with a battered face and was quickly rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, for medical attention.

Labour unions defy court order

Meanwhile, the National Industrial Court (NIC) on Friday, November 10, restrained the Labour unions and their affiliates from downing tools.

The presiding judge, Benedict Kanyip, issued the order following an ex-parte application brought before the court by the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi.

Citing a section of the NIC Act, after listening to the Federal Fovernment’s lawyer, T.A Gazali, a senior advocate, the presiding judge said, “Section 7(1)(b) of the NIC Act 2006 empowers this court to hear matters relating to the grant of any order to restrain any person or body from taking part in any industrial action, or any conduct in contemplation or furtherance of the industrial action. Section 19(a) of same Act then empowers this court to grant urgent interim reliefs.

“This court has over the years interpreted these provisions as authorising this court to grant exparte orders restraining an industrial action that is threatened, and so yet to commence, as is in the present threatened industrial action of 14 November 2023. This being so, the instant exparte application succeeds, and is hereby granted.”

Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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