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FG denies menacing NLC in a strike: Nigeria

The Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, asserts that the ministry did not threaten the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) regarding the planned strike.

This is stated in a letter sent by Jedy-Agba to the NLC’s counsel, Messrs Falana & Falana’s Chambers, on Monday in Abuja.

In the letter, she stated that the ministry merely alerted the NLC to an impending court order.

The National Security Adviser, the Director-General of State Security Services, and the Inspector General of Police were copied on the letter.

The permanent secretary was responding to a missive sent by the NLC via Falana and Falana’s Chambers, which reads in part: RE: NLC NOT IN CONTEMPT OF COURT.

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“Please refer to your correspondence dated 28 July 2023 regarding the Nigerian Labour Congress’s proposed nationwide action.

“This Ministry has reviewed the aforementioned correspondence, which misrepresents the position of this Ministry, and we deem it appropriate to clarify the issues as follows: Even in the absence of a restraining order, parties are obligated to maintain the status quo.

“However, there was no threat of contempt of judgment in this Ministry’s clarification. “Undoubtedly, bringing the pending order to the attention of the NLC and the public cannot be equated with threats,” she stated.

She noted that neither the issue of peaceful demonstrations nor police permits were in dispute.

“You may desire to consult the Communiqué issued by the National Executive Council of NLC at the conclusion of its meeting on July 27, 2023.

“The NLC’s decision or proposed cause of action is primarily aimed at advancing issues associated with a fuel price increase, as well as palliatives and worker welfare.

She stated, “We assert that it is grossly inappropriate to lead a public protest in relation to or in connection with the fuel price increase issues currently before the court.”

“It is clear from the communique that the current move by the NLC goes beyond peaceful protest by issuing a seven-day ultimatum for the government to meet its demands and by launching a nationwide action to force the government to reverse allegedly anti-worker policies.”

According to her, “undisputed media reports have established that the NLC is not planning a peaceful protest, but rather intends to bring the government to its knees by endangering public peace, instilling fear in the masses, and precipitating an additional crisis.”

“According to the Assistant General Secretary of the NLC, Nigerians should be prepared. That is the point we are making. In order to avoid becoming stranded, you must stock provisions in your home and limit your movement at this time in order to be well-prepared.

“In a similar vein, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers and the National Union of Electricity Employees affirmed that they were working toward halting fuel distribution and the national electricity grid.

The acting general secretary of the NUEE stated, “The NUEE is an affiliate of the NLC, and I have informed you that we will participate in the strike action.”

She stated: “This means that if there is a stalemate between labor and the government, the mass protest will continue, and electricity workers, as members of the NLC, will certainly participate.

“Therefore, it is obligatory for all employees in the power sector to participate in the strike action, as it is a mass protest.” Therefore, if it results in a blackout, the government must heed us if it wishes to restore power.

“We reiterate that the interim order explicitly prohibited the NLC from engaging in any form of industrial action; it is common knowledge that a strike is only one form of industrial action.

“Work performance will be restricted, limited, or delayed as a result of the participation of workers in the protest.”

Jedy-Agba stated that it is the responsibility of Messrs Falana & Falana’s Chambers to inform labor unions that peaceful protests do not justify disrupting or closing down essential services, which is equivalent to a strike.

“In light of the above, you may want to advise your consumers accordingly. Please accept the assurance of my esteem”, she instructed.

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