NLC opposes bill seeking to outlaw strikes in health sector
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has opposed the bill, before the House of Representatives, seeking to stop health workers from embarking on strike, describing the proposed piece of legislation as a violation of the principles of freedom of association as contained in the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
He reminded the lawmakers that Nigeria is a member of the ILO and Compilation 751 that recognise the rights of workers to strike as a fundamental right used as a means of defending economic and social rights and interests of employees.
Titled ‘An Act to amend the Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to prohibit medical practitioners in the employment of federal, state and local governments in the essential service sectors from embarking on strikes and to accelerate administrative and judicial proceedings in the determination of trade disputes involving them and related matters,’ the bill is sponsored by the member representing Igbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, Simon Atigwe.
Addressing health reporters yesterday in Abuja, Wabba noted that, “it is laughable for anybody to want to prohibit strike in the health sector,” adding that, “you can’t tie a worker’s hand not to demand for his rights.”
He observed that a strike aimed at increase in wage and payment of wage arrears falls within the scope of legitimacy of trade union activities, according to Compilation 769.
The NLC boss, who pointed out that there is an obligation placed on Nigeria to continue to respect the principles of the conventions it has ratified, said there “are so many things that the lawmakers would have focused their attention on than this issue that is about fundamental principle that is supposed to be respected.”
He pledged that Labour would engage the lawmakers in a “coherent manner, but if they go ahead and pass the bill, the NLC will mobilise the entire workers and lead a protest to the House to name and shame them.”