The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has issued a strong warning, stating that it will initiate a nationwide indefinite strike starting from August 14 if the contempt charge filed against it by the Federal Government is not withdrawn by the close of work on Friday, August 11. The Federal Ministry of Justice took the matter to court, accusing the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) of engaging in a strike action.
During the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held to review the recent nationwide protest, the NLC demanded an immediate withdrawal of the contempt charge. In the meeting, the mood of the nation was thoroughly discussed, taking into account the widespread suffering and hardship experienced across all states of the country.
The communiqué issued after the meeting revealed that the NEC members reviewed the effectiveness of the nationwide protest, including the meetings with President Bola Tinubu and the leadership of the National Assembly, as well as the actions taken by the Federal Government through the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
During the closed-door meeting with the NLC and TUC leaders, President Tinubu reached concrete agreements and personally assured action on several key issues. These include a commitment to restructure the framework for addressing the consequences of the hike in PMS prices in line with the input of the labor leaders, the commencement of production at the Port Harcourt Refinery by December of the current year, reaching an agreement on the wage award for Nigerian workers immediately, and presenting a workable roadmap for the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as an alternative.
The NLC expressed displeasure at the Federal Ministry of Justice, accusing it of allowing itself to be used as a tool to undermine democratic principles, suppress the voices of Nigerian workers, and serve contempt of court summons on the NLC and TUC leadership. The NLC vehemently contested the summons, citing the provisions of the constitution and the objective realities of the situation.
In light of these developments, the NEC-in-Session made the following resolutions: to support and affirm the decision to suspend further protests during the nationwide mass protest and to embark on a nationwide comprehensive strike from Monday, August 14, 2023, if the contemptuous court summons are not withdrawn by those who initiated them.
The NLC commended its national leadership and state officers for effectively coordinating the protest and urged all affiliates, state councils, and civil society allies to stay alert and focused while refraining from further action.
The Federal Government had previously filed a contempt proceeding against the NLC and TUC, alleging that they violated a June 5, 2023, exparte order issued by the National Industrial Court, which restrained them from embarking on any industrial action or strike until the hearing and determination of a Motion on Notice scheduled for June 19, 2023.