Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, says that those who are on strike following the increase in petroleum pump price are at the risk of facing a fine of N100,000 or six months in jail as prescribed by Section 40 of the Labour laws. The Minister disclosed this while answering questions yesterday from journalists at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister wondered why the NLC did not abide by the constitutional provision of serving on government the initial 15 days’ notice before calling out the strike. Adding that those who have embarked on the strike were taking a risk.
The National Industrial Court (NIC) had on Tuesday issued a restraining order stopping the Labour unions from embarking on the strike. Justice Babatunde Adejumo of the NIC granted the restraining order after the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami sought an ex parte application stopping the strike.
Following the order by the NIC, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) issued an official statement Wednesday morning withdrawing itself from the strike organized by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) but the NLC ignored the federal government and warnings commenced its nationwide strike in protest of the government’s increase of petrol price and electricity tariffs.
Dr. Ngige also said that the government engaged all the factions of the labour union as a show of concern to all the citizens of the country and because government wants peace, thus, it was unconstitutional for Labour to call for a strike in the event of breakdown of negotiations and reconciliation process.
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The FG has however said it will return to the negotiation table with the NLC after NLC President, Ayuba Wabba walked out of a meeting on Tuesday night.