NLC suspends planned strike after industrial court’s restraining order

Representatives of organised labour and government after their meeting in a photo released by the immediate Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keywmo, on Monday, June 5, 2023

By Marvellous Nyang

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has suspended its nationwide strike scheduled to commence on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, over the removal of the petrol subsidy.

The Congress announced the suspension of the proposed nationwide strike and mass protest after a meeting of its leaders and representatives of the Federal Government.

The organised labour suspended its proposed strike after Federal Government on Monday, June 5, obtained the order from the National Industrial Court restraining the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) from embarking on any form of strike.

The representatives of the Federal Government team met over the fallout of the petrol subsidy removal at the statehouse in Abuja, in a meeting attended by President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, and his team, who arrived at the Presidential Villa at about 5:45 pm on Monday.

At the earlier meeting on Sunday, June 4, between the government representatives and organised labour, the NLC was absent, but the representatives of the TUC were in attendance.

ALSO READ: Industrial court restrains NLC, TUC from embarking on planned strike

Justice O. Y. Anuwe of the National Industrial Court who granted an interim order restraining the NLC and TUC from embarking on strike on Wednesday over the subsidy removal, adjourned further hearing till June 19.

Ruling on an exparte application filed before the court, Justice Anuwe ordered the unions not to embark on their planned industrial action or strike of any nature pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The court also directed that the defendants should be immediately served with the originating processes in the suit filed as it fixed for hearing on June 19.

Before the court order, the NLC had called on its members to embark on a nationwide strike effective Wednesday, June 7.

This was called for by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, last week Friday, June 2, after an emergency meeting of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) in Abuja.

Then, he said the government, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited had up until Wednesday next week (June 7) to revert to the old price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol.

Failure of the Federal Government to meet the ultimatum, Ajaero said would attract an indefinite protest across the country.

The controversy of the subsidy removal began on Monday, May 29, during President Bola Tinubu’s inaugural speech at Eagle Square in Abuja, as he said the era of subsidy payment on fuel has ended.

He added that with the 2023 budget making no provision for fuel subsidy, further payment was no longer justifiable.

“The fuel subsidy is gone,” Tinubu said, adding that his government would rather channel funds into infrastructure and other areas to strengthen the economy, he added.

Consequently, the presidential pronouncement led to an instant resurgence of fuel queues nationwide with Nigerians as Nigerians began panic buying.

A follow-up to this was also the immediate backing of the subsidy removal by the House of Representatives and NNPCL that issued a circular of new pump prices across states in Nigeria to its subsidiaries and marketers, but the action was resisted by both the NLC and TUC.

The organised labour frowned at the action of the president saying he cannot unilaterally decide on subsidy removal.