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STRIKE: CSOs condemn labour leaders’ disobedience to court order

STRIKE: CSOs condemn labour leaders’ disobedience to court order

Some lawyers and civil society organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have called for the arrest of the country’s labour leaders for disobeying a court order restraining them from embarking on the nation-wide strike the commenced on Tuesday.

The workers are protesting last week’s alleged brutalisation of the NLC president, Mr Joe Ajaero, in Imo State.

The president of the National Industrial Court (NIC), Justice Benedict Kanyip, had restrained the labour union and their affiliates from embarking on the strike.

While declaring the strike, Mr Ajaero said the industrial action was in protest against “the persistent and egregious violations of the rights and privileges of workers in Imo State by the state government.”

But to the CSOs, the unions and the leaders should always ensure that they obey the law.

The CSOs include Transparency International (TI), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said even though the last resort of any industrial dispute was strike, court orders should be obeyed.

“We are running a constitutional democracy even though we are dealing with people who don’t respect the constitution.

“NLC/TUC should not be carried away by the lack of obedience to court orders by politicians. They should not play to the antics of people in authority. We must always ensure that we obey the court order.

“CSOs and the union leaders should not fail to obey court orders. The NLC/TUC should not create a room where court judgements are not obeyed. We should not be tempted into carrying out actions that will discredit the union,” Rafsajani said, adding that even though the government does not show genuine concern on the plight of the workers and the hardships in the land, unions should not play into their hands.

“Let us not follow these restless law breakers. There is a genuine cause and if there is a court order, let’s comply with it,” Rafsajani added.

Another CSO, Patriotism Awareness Forum (PAF), also faulted the ongoing nationwide strike in defiance to a subsisting lawful court order.

PAF, in a statement signed by its convener, Nelson Ekujumi, and co –convener, Peter Claver Oparah, said the action of the trade centres can be viewed as a brutal affront on democracy and the rule of law. It asked the government to weigh in and stop the rash, contemptuous acts of the NLC/TUC.

The Patriotism Awareness Forum pointed out that the Inspector general of police (IGP) had launched an investigation into the alleged attack on Ajaero in Owerri, on 1st November, 2023, by persons whose identity are unknown.

They said: “We wonder how labour can be a judge in its own case through its unilateral decision of going on strike in a matter that is supposed to be investigated and prosecuted according to the laws of the land.”

They warned that the present leadership of the organised labour stands to imperil the collective Nigerian workers’ interests in the pursuit of narrow interests.

The group wondered why the NLC and TUC deliberately disregarded the order of the court and embarked on a politically motivated strike just to satiate their ego and push their unpopular political interests.

“While it’s an indisputable fact that this strike is an affront against an order of the National Industrial Court (NIC) restraining the labour centres from embarking on industrial strike, we see the decision of the NLC and TUC to still go ahead with a most unpopular and contempt of court order strike, as a brazen and reckless affront to our democracy and the rule of law.”

The CSO lamented that the NLC under the leadership of Joe Ajaero had degenerated into a petty, trivial and unserious political group, whose resort to illegality and lawlessness portends an impending ruination of labour unions, for which it must take the blame for.


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