The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has been barred by the National Industrial Court from embarking on its proposed nationwide strike earlier billed for Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
The federal government, through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, sued the NLC arguing that the strike would cripple the country’s economy.
The labour union had warned Nigerians to stockpile food stuff in readiness for a complete shutdown of the economy due to the recent increase in fuel pump price.
When asked by the court how he knew there was a planned strike, Malami said he saw a statement to that effect on the website of the NLC, which was also published in the media.
Delivering judgement, President of the National Industrial Court, Babatunde Adejumo, asked both parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing of the suit brought by the Attorney General.
The court order will expire in seven days.
While adjourning the case to May 24, the judge urged the government to dialogue with the NLC, which was not represented during the hearing, with a view to finding amicable resolution.
The government and NLC are already locked in discussion to find a common ground to the fuel increase crisis.
The meeting, which started on Monday, did not reach a positive conclusion. Yesterday’s meeting ended in a deadlock after labour reportedly insisted on a new minimum wage if government wanted it to call off the proposed strike. The government delegation, which included the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, was said to have stated that this was not the right time to increase minimum wage for workers, especially in view of the falling price of crude oil-the country’s major revenue earner.
Lai Muhammed, Minister of Information, who spoke on a Radio Nigeria live programme Tuesday morning, also pleaded with labour that minimum wage is not something only the federal government could fix, stressing that it has to involved states, local governments and the private sector.
Yesterday the House of Representatives also passed a resolution calling on labour to shelve its planned strike action and allow the legislature intervene in the face-off. The resolution was moved by Nicholas Ossai during a meeting with Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum.
The House subsequently set up a committee headed by Alhassan Doguwa, House Whip, to mediate between the FG and labour and reach an amicable settlement on areas of conflict.