Strike : Labour accuses FG of diverting attention with court issue Says strike, protest hold today
The organised Labour on Sunday said the issue of Court injunction was a diversionary moves to scuttle the garment concerned of Nigerians due to hardships occasioned by the recent on the pump price of petroleum and electricity tariff hike by the federal government.
Speaking at the resumption of a bilateral meeting between Federal Government and Labour on how to avert the planned strike and protest by Labour, the workers insisted that the action scheduled to hold Monday, 28th September 2020 will hold as planned.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) Comrade Ayuba Wabba and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart Comrade Quadri Olaleye who spoke separately said labour had not seen the purported court injunction stopping action Monday.
NLC president on his part said the workers can’t rely on what they are yet to see, stressing that the citizens have a right to peaceful protest on any issue that affects their wellbeing.
He said government can not be talking about court process when Labour have gotten a court judgement which said the increment on electricity tariff was illegal, but was not obey by the government.
“Let us not forget that because, we labour unions are passionate about this issue, particularly the hike in electricity tariff, remember we had to seek judicial pronouncement and as I speak here, there is still a subsisting court judgement, Federal High Court in Lagos that said the increase is illegal, therefore, it should be set aside. I’m not sure that judgment has been respected up till today.
“I’m not saying because of that, if there are clear-cut issues we cannot proceed. I think we must also understand the context. If we are on the negotiation table, and we have come to the table with open minds, and the commitment, I think we should emphasise the issues that are on the table instead of trying to divert our attention by referring to a process which we are not known to it.
“For us, it is still a rumour because I don’t see any difficulty if somebody thinks… Part of the issues is also that, the industrial relation meddle is very clear about such processes, and also the fact that those issues were discussions of socio-economic issues. And when we discuss the issue of either strike or what else, or protest, we have standing authorities up to the level of… that says no citizen can actually be prevented from exercising his rights on peaceful assembly.
“I think we shouldn’t bring some of those issues to the table because I thought we are actually here to make resolutions. As usual, it is out of our commitment that despite that today is Sunday, we are here to see how to resolve those issues”.
TUC president Comrade Quadri Olaleye while speaking said “it was totally wrong for government to held for court to get an injunction. As he claimed, we have not been served with that court injunction, so I am not aware.
“Also, it was wrong for government to have sponsored some people, good people of Nigeria to protest at the Unity Fountain that the labour movement should not go on strike. It was very wrong for government, if another person has sponsored that, it could have been right. We actually got the information that they were being sponsored by the government.
“So I believe way forward, such two things should not happen when we have issues like this. We can dialogue. Labour is not average of going to court to challenge the injunction got by government but we have not been served. So, we are not aware of that court injunction”.
Secretary to the Government of Federation, Boss Mustapha said “When we met last week Thursday, we had a very robust discussion. We had very good insights into issues that necessitated Minister of Labour, to engage with the organized labour as to navigating through the agitating issues.
” I believe strongly that we have resolved virtually everything that was on the table in the area of deregulation of downstream sector of the oil and gas and the increase in the pump price.
” With regards to power, there are still outstanding issues that were raised by labour as to the conflicting information they had regarding electricity tariff as it applies in different areas and DISCOs. It was at stage that there should be some kind of validation. It was at this stage that the meeting adjourned’ he said.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige said “At our last meeting which the press described as deadlocked, I don’t think it was deadlocked. I made it clear that we put something on table and Labour centres said they will go and fine tune those proposals to suit their own needs.
“And in between that, there were some other developments. A Judicial process was served on us by a CSO asking us as defendants to make sure that there is not strike. So, we felt that because of those issues, our date for us to reconvene tomorrow was no longer tenable. I therefore contacted the head of the two labour centres and the SGF and the Chief of Staff to the President and we all agreed that we need to talk and dialogue as soon as possible. That necessitated our invitation which was very urgent”