NLC cautions Ngige against no-work no-pay policy
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned that applying no work, no pay policy to resolve industrial disagreement would be counter-productive.
The General Secretary of NLC, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, who stated this in Abuja, said the pronouncement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige over the possible application of the law especially where workers issue warning strikes is antithetical to stemming industrial crises in the country.
Indeed, the Minister had said that warning strike is unknown to labour laws and that workers who embark on warning strike would forfeit their pay for the duration of such warning strike action.
The scribe of the NLC said: “We are taken aback by the claims of the Honourable Minister. Accordingly, we find it necessary to state that whether warning strike is in the corpus of the Nigerian Labour Laws or not, unions over the years across all climes use warning strike as a bargaining device to bring to the negotiating table, recalcitrant employers or social partners. In other words, it is a tradition that has acquired the force of law.”
Ozo-Eson insisted that the efficacy of warning strike cannot be in doubt as it is reason why the government, led by the Minister himself is now negotiating with Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) executives.
“In the annals of labour history, warning strikes have had the distinguishing feature of saving the parties to disputes the rigours, costs and pains of full-blown strikes.
“This, the Honourable Minister, a cerebral mind a former Union leader, very well knows,” he stated. The NLC scribe wondered why would the Labour Minister be canvassing a position that is at once extreme and intolerant of further dialogue, which is the mainstay of Labour-Government relations?
He stressed that labour finds it necessary to caution that a hasty resort to legalese as a basis for conflict resolution will not be helpful.
Ozo-Eson highlighted that the truth of the matter is that if strikes are guaranteed by the law, labour fails to see how warning strikes can be illegal.
He submitted that the NLC does not intend to resort to unnecessary pedantism, but quite often, a literal interpretation of the law falls short of the intendment of the law.
He insisted that warning strikes would continue to be part of labour’s engagement with all employers including government, when necessary, saying, “and we believe we are deserving of commendation for this thoughtfulness/discretion and not vilification.”