NLC, TUC File Suit Against Court’s Order Barring Strike Over Subsidy Removal



The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have petitioned the National Industrial Court in Abuja to overturn an interim decision that forbade the unions from going on strike in opposition to the Federal Government’s elimination of fuel subsidy.

The court, on Monday, issued an interim order retraining both bodies from embarking on their planned strike over the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.

The court held that the industrial action if not circumvented is capable of disrupting economic activities and essential sectors from carrying out vital functions.

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The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice O. Y. Anuwe, specifically barred the two bodies from “embarking on the planned industrial action/or strike of any nature, pending the determination of the motion on notice dated 5th June 2023.”

It equally ordered that the NLC and the TUC, listed as defendants/respondents in the matter, should be “immediately served with the originating processes in the suit, the motion on notice, as well as the interim order.”

However, the organised labour claimed in a move they filed through its attorney, Femi Falana SAN, that the ex-parte ruling and the litigation against it are both subject to being dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

They maintained that the case by the FG against them before the NIC was offensive to certain provisions of the constitution and liable to be vacated.

Both the NLC and the TUC argued that the court lacked the jurisdictional competence to hear and determine the case “as it was filed in violation of Section 17 {2} of the Trade Disputes Act, which authorizes the Minister of Labour and Employment to refer a trade dispute directly to the National Industrial Court.”

This court as presently constituted lacks the jurisdictional competence to hear and determine the matter and or make any orders as regards the trade Dispute {subject matter of this suit} for failure to first refer the trade dispute to the Industrial Arbitration Panel as mandated by part 1 of TDA.

The claimants suit offends the lucid provisions of Order 3 Rules 1 and 6 of the National Industrial Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2017.

The union further contended for their rights to strike “under the Trade Unions Act, the Trade Disputes Act, the ILO Convention and under several international treaties the 1st Claimant/Applicant is a signatory to.”

More importantly, the NLC and the TUC claimed that Nigerian workers have a fundamental right to protest against government policies they deemed to be harmful to their interests under Section 40 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution of 1999, as amended.

Additionally, they claimed that FG’s lawsuit did not disclose a legitimate basis for action against them.

Consequently, they applied for an order, “setting aside, discharging and/or vacating the ex parte interim order of injunction restraining the defendants…or affiliates from embarking on the planned industrial action of any nature pending the hearing and determination of the claimants’ motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction made on the 5th June 2023.”

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