Labour’s June 3 Strike Notice Premature, Illegal — AGF

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The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, has faulted the June 3, 2024 notice of industrial action issued by the Organised Labour.

In a letter dated June 1, 2024, the AGF described the strike notice by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as “premature, imeffectual and illegal”.

The AGF addressed the letter to the NLC President Joe Ajaero and his TUC counterpart Festus Osifo.

The labour unions had said the current minimum wage of ₦30,000 can no longer cater to the wellbeing of an average Nigerian worker, lamenting that not all governors are paying the current wage award which expired in April 2024, five years after the Minimum Wage Act of 2019 was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The Act should be reviewed every five years to meet up with contemporary economic demands of workers.

Labour later handed the Federal Government a May 31 deadline for the a new minimum wage. On May 31, the workers’ organs in the country declared a nationwide strike beginning from Monday, June 3, 2024 over the government committee’s inability to agree on a new minimum wage and reversal of electricity tariff hike.

During the failed talks with the government, Labour rejected three government’s offers, the latest being N60,000. Both the TUC and the NLC subsequently pulled out of negotiations, insisting on ₦497,000 as the new minimum wage.

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However, the AGF urged Labour to return to the negotiation table, saying that dialogue was a more progressive path to take than industrial action.

Fagbemi drew the attention of the aggrieved unions to Sections 41(1) and 42(1) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004 (As amended) which required the NLC and the TUC to issue mandatory strike notices of a minimum of 15 days.

The AGF also recalled an interrim injunctive order granted on June 5, 2023 by an Abuja court which restrained the NLC and the TUC from embarking on any industrial action.  “This order has neither been stayed or set-aside, therefore it remains binding on the labour unions,” he said.

“Consequent on the foregoing, the call to industrial action is premature, imeffectual and illegal. The proposed strike action is also at variance with the order of the National Industrial Court and the ongoing mediatory settlement efforts over the issues connected with the subject matter of the order.

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