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‘Why industrial actions persist in Nigeria’ 

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
30 November 2021   |   4:02 am
The reluctance of governments and employers to implement Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) is responsible for the unending work-to-rule in Nigeria’s labour sub-sector.

Peters Adeyemi

The reluctance of governments and employers to implement Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) is responsible for the unending work-to-rule in Nigeria’s labour sub-sector.

The General Secretary of Non-academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Peters Adeyemi, who faulted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige’s position that lack of education of labour leaders is responsible for a plethora of strikes in the country, declared that non-implementation of agreements is the root cause of unabated strikes across all sectors of the economy.

His words: “Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Action that have been signed and remained unimplemented are at the root of the crisis bedevilling the education sector. I read in the media where our respected Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige was quoted as saying that it is the lack of adequate education that is propelling frequent industrial actions that are taking place in various sectors of the economy.

“With due respect, I say that it is not lack of education, but lack of insincerity on the part of government functionaries that is responsible for these series of industrial actions that we have seen from one sector to another.”

Adeyemi submitted that the fire brigade approach adopted by the government after labour issues of strike notice of strike.

“When a union gives notice of strike, it is expected that the leadership of the union should either be invited, communicated with or a process of dialogue is initiated. No union leadership is made of mad and uneducated people. Union leaderships are made up of patriotic Nigerians,” he said.

Adeyemi insisted that the position of the Minister shows a lack of deep understanding of the inner workings of the labour movement by those in the position of power.

His argument: “So, to assume that lack of education of union leaders is responsible for strikes is erroneous and shows a lack of understanding of how labour unionism operates by those that are appointed to superintend our labour matters in our country.”

He also blamed the lackadaisical attitude of those saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring the smooth running of government agencies and ministries for labour strikes.

The NASU Scribe described the issuance of ‘no work, no pay’ by government to apprehend strike as cheap blackmail to render actions impotent, but that has failed to achieve the devilish plot.

He said: “The truth of the matter is that when we insist that those in authority should follow the relevant portions of the law as provided for in the Labour laws of the land, they fail to do so. They do not reply to letters; when trade disputes are filed, those in power refuse to respond, what then do we do? When we file the first letter, no response, we file the second which is a reminder, they ignore us and then when we begin to strike, they threaten us with no work, no pay.”

He said: “The truth of the matter is that when we insist that those in authority should follow the relevant portions of the law as provided for in the Labour laws of the land, they fail to do so. They do not reply to letters; when trade disputes are filed, those in power refuse to respond, what then do we do? When we file the first letter, no response, we file the second which is a reminder, they ignore us and then when we begin to strike, they threaten us with no work, no pay.” 
     
Adeyemi argued that lack of resources for abandoning implementation of agreements is not tenable in the court of credible argument, saying, “in situations where the resources of government are unable to fund agreements, what is expected of government is not to sit and remain quiet and made a fool of trade unions, what is expected of government is to call the unions and explain its predicament to them. The trade unions will then go back to their members and explain to them. If the reasons are cogent enough, the agreement can then be adjusted to accommodate government shortcomings.”