NLC, TUC Appeal Court Order Stopping Strike Action Over Fuel Subsidy Removal

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) as well as the Trade Union Congress, (TUC), have asked the National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Abuja to set aside its interim order that stopped its members from embarking on the planned strike in protest of the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government (FG).

The Organized Labour, in a motion they filed through their lawyer, Femi Falana, maintained that the suit FG brought against them before the NIC, was offensive to provisions of Section 254C (1) (f) of the 1999 Constitution and section 7(6) of the NIC Act 2006, “and thus, the ex-parte order liable to be set aside.”

Both Unions argued that the court lacked the jurisdictional competence to hear and determine the case “as it was filed in violation of Section 17 {2} of the Trade Disputes Act, which authorises the Minister of Labour and Employment to refer a trade dispute directly to the National Industrial Court.”

“This court as presently constituted lacks the jurisdictional competence to hear and determine the matter and or make any orders as regards the trade Dispute {subject matter of this suit} for failure to first refer the trade dispute to the Industrial Arbitration Panel as mandated by part 1 of TDA.

“The Claimants/Applicants suit offends the lucid provisions of Order 3 Rules 1 and 6 of the National Industrial Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2017.

“The Defendants/Applicants and their members have a right to strike under the Trade Unions Act, the Trade Disputes Act, the ILO Convention and under several international treaties the 1st Claimant/Applicant is a signatory to.

“By virtue of Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, Nigerian workers have the fundamental right to protest against policies of government considered inimical to their interests as reiterated in the cases of IGP VS ANPP {2008} 12 WRN 65, MUSA VS INEC,” they added.

READ ALSO: Fuel Subsidy: Court Stops NLC, TUC From Embarking On Strike Action

However, NLC and TUC submitted that the suit by FG did not disclose a reasonable cause of action against them.

“The Plaintiff’s suit is lacking in bona fide, as it was filed to harass, irritate and embarrass the Defendants/Applicants, which constitutes an abuse of judicial process.

“The Claimants/Applicants suppressed material facts before this Honourable Court thereby misleading the Court to grant the exparte reliefs sought and obtained.

“In the circumstances and under established judicial authorities as well as extant Rules of this Honourable Court, the Claimants suit as presently constituted against the Defendant is liable to be dismissed or struck out for want of jurisdiction and the ex parte order set aside,” the two unions added.

To this end, they applied for an order, “setting aside, discharging and/or vacating the ex parte interim order of injunction restraining the Defendants/Respondents, their members, their agents, employees, workmen, servants, proxies or affiliates from embarking on the planned Industrial Action and/or strike of any nature pending the hearing and determination of the Claimants/Applicants motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction made on the 5th June 2023, Coram: Hon. Justice O.Y. Anuwe in Suit No: NICN/ABJ/158/2023 between the federal government of Nigeria & anor. Vs Nigerian labour congress and anor.”

Recall that the court had in a ruling that was delivered by Justice O. Y. Anuwe on June 5, barred the two organizations from proceeding with their planned strike action, pending the determination of a suit that was brought against them by FG.