Government’s Ban On Strikes Threat To Peaceful Elections, Handover – TUC
The Trade Union Congress, TUC has warned on the announcement made by the Federal Government that it has banned strikes in the aviation industry and other sectors it called “essential services”, saying it is a serious threat to industrial peace and harmony in the country.
In a statement signed by TUC President, Comrade (Engr) Festus Osifo said forceful implementation of this directive by the government will be resisted.
“Aviation Minister, Hadi Abubakar Sirika who announced the so-called ban on behalf of the Buhari administration should know that the Aviation law he refers to which he claims empowers government to ban strikes, cannot override neither.
” The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria nor the fundamental rights of
Nigerians to withdraw their labour if they deem it necessary. This is unambiguously stated in the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and the Right to organize.
” Section 20 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) bans forced or compulsory
labour which means no Nigerian citizen can be forced to work if he or she chooses not to work. Government and its handlers should always do everything possible to address issues of welfare raised by different unions and also respect the letters of any collective agreement that it entered into. This is the only way
strike can be averted and not by any surreptitious or clandestine moves or
pronouncements. There is no sector whose services is not essential; Is it health
Also, Section 40 of the Constitution states that Nigerians have the fundamental
right to unionization. There is no more fundamental right in unionization than that
of workers to unite and struggle for their interests which also include industrial
The Minister’s claim that strikes are unnecessary because: “As a government,
our ears are always open, the government is open to listening to any grievances
and there are procedures for dealing with these kind of grievances” sounds
hollow. If indeed government listens, it would have listened to Air Transport
Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATTSSSAN) members and the
aviation staff’s long-standing demands rather than force them into a strike. If truly
government listens, it would not have allowed the universities teachers strike to
drag on for eight months simply because it failed to honour an agreement it
willfully entered into. And even after the strike was called off; it continues to
withhold the unpaid salaries of the academics, which itself is provocative and
unfair labour practice.
The TUC also wishes to state that strike in the aviation industry is not a peculiarly
Nigerian issue; it is a right exercised universally by workers. In the past few
months, airport and airline staff in France, Belgium, Portugal and Italy have gone
on strike. This same week aviation staff went on strike in Nigeria, their
counterparts in some other countries also did. For instance, on January 25,
2023, aviation staff in Portugal and Germany went on strike while those in the
United Kingdom have called a strike for February 1, 2023.
It is wishful thinking for the Federal Government to think it can trample on the
rights of Nigerian workers. The TUC therefore gives notice that any attempt by
the Federal Government to enforce an illegal ban on strikes will be vigorously
resisted. By this declaration, TUC is placing all its members on alert to be ready
to carry out solidarity actions with striking workers in any sector if the government
tries to criminalize such an action.
The TUC assures ATTSSSAN members and aviation workers and indeed all the
working people of our country of its solidarity and its readiness to side with them
in all their legitimate disputes with government or employers in furtherance of
We advise the Buhari administration to concentrate on good governance, make
petroleum products available, protect Nigerians against rampaging bandits and
hyper-inflation and allow a peaceful transition of power rather than provoke
unnecessary labour unrest.
The TUC calls on all organizations including professional and market
associations, student unions and civil society organizations to join in resisting
government attempts to abridge the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people
when that time comes.
A Stich in time saves nine.