Rivers Govt Warns Labour against Strike Until Court Decides

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Zacchaeus Adangor

Ernest Chinwo in Port-Harcourt

The Rivers State Government has warned the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state against embarking on industrial action until a pending court action is decided.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor issued the warning at a session with journalists yesterday, citing a court order that prohibited all forms of strike in the state.

At the session, the attorney-general alleged that the chapter wanted to abandon a subsisting court case reserved for judgement on September 29 to embark on its threatened current strike.

On March 16, Adangor explained that the congress issued seven days notice for an indefinite strike but failed as scheduled for midnight March 23.

He said a suit was instituted by the state government at the Port Harcourt Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria seeking interpretation to the enabling laws relating to the strike.

He noted that the originating summons was heard and instead of NLC to await the judgment already reserved for September 29, they were calling for another strike contrary to the subsisting order.

“The NLC and Trade Union Congress failed or neglected to fulfil the condition precedent for the declaration of the strike action as prescribed in Section 4,6 and 18(1)(a) of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“Surprisingly, while the suit No. NICN/PH/41/2020 is still pending and the Interim Order of Injunction issued therein still subsisting, the defendants acting in collusion and concert with the national leadership of the Organised Labour (NLC and TUC) issued another threat of fresh strike in Rivers state based on the same reasons,” he stated.

The attorney-general noted that in the face of overt and unmitigated illegality by the organised labour, the state government approached the courturt because it believes in the rule of law.

According to him, the government obtained an interim injunction from the National Industrial Court to stop the labour strike while also seeking interpretation of provisions of the Trade Dispute Act and Trade Union Act.

Adangor said with the subsisting matter in court and the order of interim injunction, the organised labour in Rivers state would be committing contempt of court if it embarks on industrial action.

“The trial court after hearing extensive legal arguments from the Attorney General of Rivers State granted an order of interim injunction restraining all the defendants on record.

He said all the defendants had been duly served with the order of interim injunction and could not claim otherwise, saying the affidavits of service had been filed in the registry of the court after substituted means of service was used.

He said: “Every disobedience of an order of court constitutes contempt of court. The organised labour is therefore warned against any act of overt or subtle disobedience of the substituting order.”