By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA–The Federal Government, on Friday, secured an ex-parte order stopping the organised labour from embarking on nationwide strike action from next week, to protest the non-implementation of the proposed N30, 000.00 new minimum wage for workers.
The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Sanusi Kado, directed both the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, to suspend the planned strike action, pending the determination of a suit FG lodged before it.
The court said the preservative injunction was to avert devastating effect the industrial action would have on the nation, the economy and the hardship it would occassion for Nigerians at large.
Justice Kado specifically barred the NLC, the TUC and the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Governors Forum, who were listed as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants in the matter, respectively, fom taking steps capable of destroying the ‘Res’ (subject matter) of the case before him.
He directed that the order stopping the planned strike should be served on both the NLC and TUC immediately.
According to Justice Kado, “It is the overall interest of justice and stability of the society to grant the order of interim injunction against the 1st and 2nd defendants (NLC and TUC), their members, privies, agents, proxies, workmen, or servants from embarking on or taking part in the planned strike or industrial action scheduled to commence on November 6, 2018, in whatever form pending the hearing or determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction which is pending before the court.
“It is also necessary to grant an order of interim injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants (NLC and TUC), their members, privies, agents, proxies, employees, workmen, or servants from engaging or taking part in any conduct or act in contemplation or furtherance of the strike or industrial action scheduled to commence on November 6, 2018, pending the hearing and etermination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”
The ruling followed a motion FG filed through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
The motion, which was attached to the suit marked NICN/ABJ/287/2018, was moved in court by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata.
FG told the court that the country was at risk of plunging back to recession should the labour unions be allowed to embark on nationwide strike action.
It decried that the strike would equally jeopardise the health of citizens that may seek access to health facilities, and also affect the livelihood of many Internally Displaced Persons currently sheltered in various camps owing to recent flooding that ravaged some states.
Justice Kado agreed with FG that the nation’s economy, health and rights of people would be hampered by the planned industrial action by the organised labour.
“The affidavit evidence has equally stated that the people living in the IDPs will be adversely affected by the strike as there will be no movement during the strike due to the withdrawal of services, more particularly, in the petroleum sector.
“The impact of the strike will be too devastating to the economy and thereby affect developmental goals.
“There is also the fear that the country may slump back to recession if the strike occurs”, Justice Kado held
He said the preservative order of interim injunction was granted against NLC and TUC, due to the urgency of the application and the desire to prevent economic loss to both public and private institutions and also to protect the fundamental rights of the general public.
“I am afraid, if the strike is allowed to proceed as planned, there will be a lot of people who will not be able to access medical facilities, and even where they can access the medical facilities, medical personnel may not be there to attend to them.
“Even the patients currently in the hospitals may likely develop more complications due to lack of presence of medical facilities to attend to their needs.
“The 3rd defendant (NGF, being one of the major stakeholders in the labour industry, should also not do anything that will in any way adversely affect the interest of their workforce, pending the hea)ring and determination of this suit.
“This case is adjourned to November 8, 2018 for the hearing of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.
“All the parties concerned should be immediately served with this order of court”, the Judge added.
It will be recalled that the organised labour had vowed to proceed on a nationwide industrial action from November 6, following delay by both the Federal and State Governments, to implement a subsisting tripartite agreement for the lowest paid worker in Nigeria to earn a minimum wage of N30, 000. 00
A non governmental organisation under the eagis of Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, had earlier dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, as well as Governors of all the 36 States of the Federation to court over delay in the implementation of the N30, 000.00 new minimum wage.
The group, aside seeking a court order to compel FG and all the 36 governors to pay the new minimum wage, also applied for an order to restrain the organised labour from going ahead with its plan down-tool from Tuesday next week.