Court blocks NLC, TUC from striking over petrol prices
National Industrial Court on Tuesday temporarily restrained unions from launching a national strike to force the government to reverse a 67 percent rise in petrol prices.
The Court made the decision against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) after an application by justice minister Abubakar Malami.
The unions had directed workers to embark on an indefinite strike from Wednesday unless the government reversed a decision to raise petrol prices to 145 naira ($0.72, 0.63 euros) from 86.5 naira per litre.
“It is the order of this court that (the) status quo be maintained as at 17th May, 2016,” judge Babatunde Adejumo said in his ruling.
”The defendants are hereby restrained from carrying out the (strike) threat.”
The case was adjourned until May 24 when a full judgment on the dispute would be given, he added.
In court papers seen by AFP, Malami argued that if the strike went ahead, “the federal, state and local government will lose revenue worth billions of naira, thereby causing untold hardship and unimaginable security problems/challenges across the country”.
The unions had not complied with the procedures for declaring a strike and had not given the government notice of its intent to walk out, he added.
Nigeria’s Labour Ministry on Monday began talks with the unions to prevent the industrial action but no agreement had been reached by the time discussions broke up in the early hours of Tuesday.
Talks were due to resume later Tuesday.
A strike is likely to increase the pressure on Africa’s biggest economy caused by the global slump in crude prices, which has drastically cut government revenue from oil exports.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Emmanuel Kachikwu told House of Representatives on Monday that renewed militants attacks on pipelines and facilities in the oil-producing south had cut output to 1.4 million barrels per day.
The government has budgeted this year for production at 2.2 million bpd.
The petrol price increase has been seen as a removal of subsidies the government pays to fuel importers and a recognition of market forces.
Most motorists have been buying petrol at 145 naira per litre or more for months because of a fuel shortage caused by importers being unable to source foreign exchange to buy supplies.