Leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Tuesday, explained that part of the reasons they shelved the strike actions that would have started on Tuesday to protest the sudden hike in petroleum products, was to preserve the ongoing cases at the election tribunals.
Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), backed by both unions, as well as Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are currently in court, challenging the victory of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who was inaugurated last week.
Giving insight into why they abandoned the the fight for the for reversion to the old price announced by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), which saw Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, jumping from N198 to N555, Joe Ajaero, NLC President and General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, cited the mood of the nation, in view of the outcome of the presidential elections still being challenged at the tribunal, as central to their decision.
Other factors, they mentioned after emerging from an emergency National Executive Council (NEC), meeting, included the need to pursue national stability and the restraining order obtained by the Federal Government from the National Industrial Court, (NIC), stopping the strike.
The organised labour, however called out the court in its communiqué at the end of the meeting, accusing it of weaponisation of the instrument of ex-parte injunctions in favour of the government against the interests of Nigerian workers in defiance of the position of the Supreme Court on the use of this instrument.
The communiqué read: “Taking into account that the Federal Government has procured a court injunction restraining congress from proceeding with the proposed nationwide strike as the NEC-in-session had ordered to begin, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, and recognising the willingness of government for continuous engagement through dialogue and to offer reasonable palliatives in due course to cushion the effect of its policies, some levels of understanding were reached
“Considering the mood of the socio-polity of the last elections and the need to pursue national stability and, the NEC-in-session also resolved to commend and applaud the diligence of the congress’ leadership in carrying out the assignment given to it by NEC.
“It demonstrated to the Federal Government the need to comply with the laws of the land, especially as it concerns obedience to the ruling of courts and their brazen disregard for the 2023 Appropriation Act. NEC-in session, therefore, supports and accepts the decision of the leadership of Congress to suspend the proposed strike in compliance with the flawed rulings of the NIC and also allow negotiations to flow freely and enable final agreement during or after June 19, 2023, negotiation round with the Federal Government.
“The NEC-in- Session, however, registers in strongest terms its disgust and disapproval of the ruling of the National Industrial Court, NIC, for its continuous weaponisation of the instrument of ex-parte injunctions in favour of government against the interests of Nigerian workers, in defiance of the position of the Supreme Court on the use of this instrument.
“All affiliates and state councils of Congress are, hereby, directed to suspend further action and mobilisation until the outcome of the final negotiations.
“The NEC-in-Session commends all affiliates and state councils on their robust mobilisation towards a successful nationwide strike and to also remain vigilant in case there is need to continue.”