Fuel subsidy removal: Court bars labour unions from embarking on strike
The National Industrial Court Abuja Judicial Division has granted an interim order restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) from going on strike from Wednesday as planned, until the determination of the motion on notice.
Justice O. Y. Anuwe issued the order Monday and adjourned further hearing till 19 June.
The Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in Suit no. NICN/ABJ/158/2023 had sought an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants, NLC and TUC “and their members, their agents, employees, workmen, servants, proxies or affiliates from embarking on the planned Industrial Action and/or strike of any nature pending the hearing and determination of the Claimants/Applicants’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction and such further or other orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.”
Justice Anuwe justifying his order stated that the averment by the applicant’s counsel that the proposed strike action would disrupt “economic activities, the health sector and the educational sector” is of significance.
He affirmed the court is empowered to grant the injunction by Section 7(b) of the National Industrial Court Act 2006, which he says also clothes it “with exclusive jurisdiction in matters relating to the grant of any order to restrain any person or body from taking part in any strike, lock out or any industrial action or any conduct in contemplation or in furtherance of strike, lock out or any industrial action,” further saying “Sections 16 and 19(a) of the NIC Act 2006 also empower this court to make orders or grant urgent interim reliefs.”
He maintained, ”the urgency enumerated in the affidavit of urgency and in counsel’s submission reveals a scenario that may gravely affect the larger society and indeed the well-being of the nation at large. Counsel has pointed out that students of Secondary Schools nationwide, especially those writing WAEC exams will be affected; the Tertiary institutions who have only just resumed after a long ASUU strike will also be affected, not leaving the health sector, amongst other sectors; and above all, the economy of the nation. In my view, this is a situation of extreme urgency that will require the intervention of this court.”
And so he declared, “Having therefore considered the totality of this application, I make the following orders:
“The defendants/Respondents are hereby restrained from embarking on the planned Industrial Action/or strike of any nature, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice dated 5th June 2023.”
Ordering the defendants/respondents be immediately served with the originating processes in the suit, the Motion on Notice and the order of the court, he fixed the Motion on Notice for hearing for 19th June 2023.
Ogbomoso Insight recalls that the labour unions had given notice that it would kickstart a nationwide industrial action starting Wednesday June 5 to protest the removal of fuel subsidy by the administration of President Bola Tinubu which had necessitated hike in price of premium motor spirit (pms) popularly known as petrol by over 300 percent.
Meetings between labour unions and the Federal Government to resolve the matter so as to avert the strike action has not yielded positive results as the former have stuck to their guns.