Labour breaking the law with strike declaration — Fagbemi

Lateef Fagbemi

Attorney general of the federation (AGF) Lateef Fagbemi has said that the industrial action declared by labour leaders is illegal.

Fagbemi stated this in a letter dated June 1 and addressed to the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), stressing that negotiations between the Federal Government and other stakeholders on determining a new national minimum wage had not been concluded.

His statement came ahead of Monday, June 3 which the organised labour declared the beginning of an indefinite strike.

Labour leaders want over N400,000 as minimum wage while the government and private sector are proposing N60,000.

Drawing attention to legal provisions, Fagbemi cited Sections 41(1) and 42(1) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004 (as amended), which mandate both NLC and TUC to issue mandatory strike notices of at least 15 days.

He argued that the failure of the labour unions to comply with these provisions renders their strike action illegitimate and unlawful.

Fagbemi, who is also minister of justice, emphasised the gravity of non-compliance with the mandatory 15-day notice, highlighting the criminalisation of such actions under Sections 41 and 42(1) of the Trade Disputes Act.

“I wish to further draw your attention to the fact that the conditions outlined by our national legislation for exercising the right to strike are in tandem with the International Labour Organization principles concerning the right to strike.

“It is the position of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association that the obligation to give prior notice, obligation to have recourse to conciliation, mediation and (voluntary) arbitration procedures in industrial disputes, etc are prior prerequisites for declaring a strike, the AGF said.

Regarding the alleged ultimatum issued to the government by labour for the conclusion of negotiations, Fagbemi asserted that it did not meet the requirement of issuing a formal notice of strike action.

In addition, Fagbemi reminded organised labour of the interim injunctive order granted on June 5, 2023, which restrained both NLC and TUC from embarking on any industrial action or strike. He emphasised that the order remains binding on the labour unions until overturned.