Today’s meeting between the Federal Government and Labour to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed to prevent the October 3 planned strike, is threatened.
NLC President Joe Ajaero said yesterday that should Labour Minister Simon Lalong show up at the venue, his team would boycott the parley.
The meeting is at the behest of the Office of the Chief of Staff to President, Ajaero confirmed.
The NLC also reaffirmed its planned strike in Imo State on Wednesday over unpaid wages and other alleged anti-labour practices.
But the National Industrial Court in Owerri has issued an extended interim injunction restraining Labour from embarking on the strike.
The Presiding/Admin Judge of the Division, Justice Nelson, adjourned till Friday for either a hearing or a report of settlement.
Ajaero, at a briefing in Abuja, said today’s meeting will review progress made by the Federal Government.
Last week, the NLC accused Lalong of plotting to thwart the agreement reached with the Federal Government.
Part of the agreement was the resolution of the crisis rocking the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
The NLC accused the minister of siding with a faction of the NURTW leadership.
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Ajaero said: “Hopefully we may meet tomorrow (today) with the Federal Government all things being equal on their report and template, whether all those issues have been met in the last 30 days.
“If that meeting holds, the minister of Labour will not be present in any meetings with us.
“Any meeting the Federal Government calls today with the Minister of Labour and Employment, that meeting will not hold.
“You have noticed of late that meetings are no longer called by the Minister of Labour because he is not in control.
“Therefore, to depend on him for resolutions on issues about Labour is to waste our time.
“For tomorrow’s (today’s) meeting, the invitation we got was from the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President (Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila) and that is where previous meetings have been held.
“The Minister of Labour has no place in the current industrial relations.”
NLC begins strike in Imo Wednesday
Despite the Abuja meeting, the NLC has asked workers in Imo to withdraw their services in protest of alleged unfair labour treatment by the state government.
The Congress said it would embark on a protest on Wednesday.
The NLC said there would be a total shutdown of economic activities in Imo.
All workers from all affiliate unions of the Congress are expected to be on the streets to press home their demands.
Ajaero said the Congress has already commenced mass mobilisation of its members across affiliate unions for the showdown in Owerri.
The NLC president said Labour was “deeply concerned about the persistent and egregious violations of the rights and privileges of workers in the state by the Imo State Government”.
He lamented that despite repeated efforts to engage in constructive dialogue and reach amicable agreements, “the state government had become a habitual and serial breaker of these agreements”.
Ajaero said the state, having “continued to trample on the rights of workers, left them with no choice but to embark on mass protests and industrial actions beginning on the 1st day of November 2023 to demonstrate our outrage and stop the continuing violation of the rights and privileges of workers.”
He accused the state government of relying on its “powers to deploy the fierce and coercive forces of the state against trade unions and their leadership to continue on this line of action.”
Court stops NLC’s ‘Occupy Imo’ strike
But the National Industrial Court in Owerri has issued an extended interim injunction restraining Labour from embarking on strike.
The NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) were further ordered not to embark on Occupy Imo as planned.
The court warned against the disobedience of its order.
Justice Ogbuanya gave the order after hearing the submissions of the Attorney-General of Imo State, C. O. C. Akaolisa and the defendants’ counsel, N.A. Nnawuchi (SAN).
Akaolisa prayed the court to grant an extended interim order against the defendants in view of their fresh threat to embark on strike through Occupy Imo.
The defendants are the NLC and its Secretary General, Emmanuel Ugboaja and the TUC and its Secretary General, Nuhu Toro.
In the suit numbered NICN/ OW/41/2023, the state government said since there is a subsisting order restraining the defendants from going on strike, the order should be extended.
It informed the court in an affidavit that Labour was currently mobilising its members from the Southeast and Southsouth to Occupy Imo from Wednesday.
After hearing from both counsel in the suit, the court granted the order of extended interim injunction restraining the defendants from embarking on any strike in whatever guise.
“The order of interim injunction earlier granted against the defendants is hereby extended till the next adjourned date.
“Parties are hereby directed to be mindful of consequences of disobedience of extant order of the court in a pending suit before the court in line with the provisions of Order 63, Rule 4 of the Rules of this Court,” the court ruled.
Justice Ogbuanya adjourned till Friday.