Saturday, January 7, 2012

Update: Industrial Court Stops Labour’s Monday Strike

The Will
6 January 2012

ABUJA, January 06, (THEWILL) - The National Industrial Court Friday restrained the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) from embarking on its planned nationwide strike scheduled for midnight Sunday.

The ruling of the court followed an ex-parte appeal filed by the federal government through the Office of the Attorney General of the federation seeking to block the unions from proceeding on an indefinite strike following the federal government’s sudden removal of subsidy on petroleum products.

President of the Court Mr. Babatunde Adejumo gave the ruling.

In what appeared to be a shoddy handling of the ex-parte application by a junior lawyer from the chambers of Mr. Fabian Ajogwu SAN, the federal government practically had the President of the Court argue its application for it.

The junior lawyer, Mr. Martin Echo could not even cite an authority to back up his application. The President of the Court Mr. Adejumo cited the authority for him while expressing reservations that a SAN would delegate such an important and sensitive matter to an inexperienced lawyer.

In a 30-paragraph affidavit of urgency filed at about mid day and deposed to by counsel in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Yusuf Moka, government averred that the defendants had not submitted any dispute to arbitration nor served it with a notice of arbitration, insisting that the scheduled strike was called without a formal declaration of a dispute relating to labour relations or employee rights.

Government further averred that the removal of subsidy was not a dispute that could confer a right on the defendants or their members to embark on an industrial action, adding that the defendants did not conduct any ballot in accordance with the rules and constitution of the trade union to determine whether members truly wanted to go on strike.

In urging the court to stop the strike, government said if the planned mass action is allowed to proceed, the State’s economy would suffer, government’s contractual and bilateral deals with foreign countries would be jeopardized while it would also lose huge sums in revenue.

Delivering its ruling at about 5.40pm, the 3-man court held that the strike would hurt the economy if labour is allowed to proceed with the plan. The court said it had jurisdiction to issue the restraining order because the defendants (NLC and TUC) had not embarked on the strike.

The court then adjourned to Thursday, January 12, 2012, with an order to the AGF to serve the court’s ruling to the NLC and TUC via an advertisement in ThisDay and two other national newspapers.

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