Sunday, April 21, 2024
HomeHealthWorkers Strike: NLC To Lawmakers You Can't Gag Workers

Workers Strike: NLC To Lawmakers You Can’t Gag Workers

… Ayuba Says Proposed Bill An Outright Violation Of Workers Fundamental Human Rights

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked members of the National Assembly, notably those in the House of Representatives, to drop a measure that would have outlawed strikes and other types of industrial action, particularly by health care workers represented by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).

Workers claim the move is a deliberate attempt to silence them and undermine their legal position so they can lose legal support to seek their lawful rights, which are largely obtained through strikes and other industrial actions, and they refuse to accept it.

On the proposed bill, NLC President Ayuba Wabba told reporters in Abuja that Nigerian workers will not accept it and will use all available means and strength to fight it.

Wabba said the proposed bill was an outright violation of the fundamental human rights of workers, and also a violation of some sections of the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, particularly on the Freedom of Association which Nigeria is a signatory to.

The NLC President disagreed with the plan to categorize health care workers under JOHESU as “essential” service providers by the bill, hence they won’t be entitled to strike.

He, thereby, made reference to some sections of the ILO document particularly on Freedom of Association which only recognized air traffic controllers as essential service workers.

Wabba said: “Compilation 769 of the ILO treaty stated clearly that strikes aimed at increase in wages and payment of wage arrears fall within the scope of the legitimacy of trade union activities.

“Also, compilation 751 stated that the right of workers to strike constitutes fundamental human rights of workers and their organization especially unions. Besides, strikes are used as means of defending the economy, social rights and interests of workers.”

He, however, promised that NLC won’t be confrontational in their approach against the lawmakers, rather they would adopt the option of lobbying and other means to pacify the lawmakers, and properly educate them on the dangers of their steps and the need to retrace the steps for the benefit of all.

“This move by lawmakers is laughable and a display of ignorance of the ILO conventions. Obviously, those proposing this law against a strike by health workers are not aware of the ILO conventions, hence they are taking the wrong steps. Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment is aware of the ILO conventions, and often provide reports on the compliance to the ILO authorities, periodically.”

He advised the lawmakers to shift their attention to tackling poverty and other socioeconomic challenges instead of channelling their energy to things that won’t solve problems.

It would be recalled that Simon Atige, a member of the House of Representatives from Enugu State, championed a bill titled “An Act to Amend the Trade Disputes Act, cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” which would prevent medical practitioners employed by the federal, state, and local governments in the “essential service” sectors from striking.

The bill also aimed to speed up administrative t hem and related matters.

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