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Government, NLC in fresh collision over alleged move to outlaw strikes in aviation sector

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
13 September 2022   |   4:35 am
The Federal Government and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are heading for a fresh industrial dispute over alleged move to criminalise strikes in the aviation sector.

President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba

The Federal Government and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are heading for a fresh industrial dispute over alleged move to criminalise strikes in the aviation sector.

NLC said the vexatious provision had allegedly been smuggled into the nation’s labour law awaiting presidential assent.

In a memo referenced NLC/NS/E.215, dated September 2, 2022 and addressed to Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, spotted some insertions that were not in the original draft of the bill presented at the public hearings.

He contended that the ‘smuggled’ clauses “are completely anomalous and in conflict with Nigeria’s labour laws, which regulate industrial relations in our country.”

The NLC boss observed that the fact that the insertions were never raised nor discussed during the public hearings on the draft bill convinced labour that the “obtuse insertions, which ridicule legislative best practices, were smuggled into the passed bill.”

He cited three provisions alien to the original document, including “Sections 41 (2) (Page 16 of the passed bill) provides as follows:

‘The minister may by regulations prohibit all or such cases or classes of workers, officers and other employees or persons whether corporate or natural, engaged in the provision of the services specified in subsection (1) of this section from taking part in a strike or other industrial action. Section 42 (2) (Page 16 of the passed bill] provides as follows: ‘There shall be no strikes, lock-outs, pickets, blockades, service disruptions, etc. of any kind within all facilities managed by the Authority and where any labour dispute arises, such dispute shall be resolved by the Authority.

“Section 45 (interpretation) (Page 17 of the passed bill) provides as follows: ‘strike’ means the cessation of work by a body of persons employed, acting in combination or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding of persons employed to continue to work for an employer in consequence of a dispute, done as a means of compelling his employer or any other person or body of persons employed, to accept or not to accept terms of employment and physical conditions of work or any government economic policy or pricing of any essential products; and in this definition – (a) ‘cessation of work’ includes working at less than usual speed or with less than usual efficiency without reasonable operational justification; and (b) ‘refusal to continue to work’ includes a refusal to work at the usual speed of efficiency.”

Wabba maintained that the insertions were contrived to undermine, supplant and mortgage the rights of Nigerian workers to belong to trade unions of their choice, freely organise in their workplaces, undertake trade union activities, including strike actions without any interference, and engage in collective bargaining for the protection of the interests of workers.

He added: “The foregoing rights were not only hard-fought and domesticated in international conventions which Nigeria is a signatory to (ILO Conventions 87 and 98) but are also constitutionally guaranteed.”

The NLC chief requested Adeyemi to prevail on the leadership of the Senate to officially write the President seeking a recall of the bill for expunging of the obnoxious clauses for re-presentation as well as probe of the entire incident and punishment for the perpetrators.

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