By Adunola Oladapo
The Federal Government has taken a critical look at the slew of strikes called by workers in the last two months, arriving at the conclusion that the industrial actions were targeted at pulling down the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Rising from its deliberations on Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, resolved to activate the ‘no work no pay’ doctrine in order to check the excesses of workers in the public sector, particularly those who embark on strike arbitrarily.
Aside the ‘no work no pay’ policy, the government was also considering regarding the periods during which workers stayed on strike would as non-pensionable.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the law the Federal Government was banking on has been in existence and has been captured under the trade dispute Act.
Ngige insisted that the plethora of strikes in recent times were allegedly orchestrated to frustrate the current administration and portray it in bad light.
He said recent industrial actions ranging from the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU; National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD; Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, among others, all flouted the constitutional provisions which stated that government must be well notified ahead of any strike.
Ngige said, “We have to do that because of the spate of industrial crisis we have suffered in the last two months, when we had plethora of strikes all over the place. So council has said this should be re-emphasised to workers so that they will know.
“Council looked at another recommendation in terms of people who are permanently doing union activities, they are presidents of trade unions for life and they sit tight, criticise those who are trying to do third term or fourth term while they themselves are sitting tight.
“It was agreed that my ministry should continue with our work in terms of fishing out the unions that don’t have constitutions that prescribed time limit for their elected officers. Such unions should be made to comply with the law, so that people can be elected, they serve out their term and other people will take their place. That is democracy in account.”
The Labour minister noted that part of other regulations which the government was considering is the need for affiliate labour unions to clearly spell out their tenure system and make such document available to the ministry that intercedes whenever there is labour dispute.
While furthering his argument, he explained that there was need to forestall situations where some union executives become sit-tight administrators, criticising government from their comfort zone on a persistent basis.
“There were certain industrial matters that were looked into today in council. Council had earlier directed the SGF to set up a technical committee on industrial relations matters in the federal public service. This committee was set up precisely on April 27, 2016.
“It was chaired by the SGF and co-chaired by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. Members were Chairman of National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission; Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Science and Technology, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and they produced a report. This report was all encompassing and council looked at it today.
“First and foremost the report emphasised the need to implement the law on no work no pay. The no work no pay is not a rule, neither is it a policy. It is a law captured on trade disputes Act of the federation.
“Section 43 to be precise says that workers have a right to disengage from an employer if there is a break down in discussions or negotiation. But for the period that the worker does so, the employer should not pay and those periods are to be counted as non-pensionable times in the period of work.
“So council today re-emphasised that that law is still in existing and that it should be brought to the knowledge of workers in the public and private sectors, especially those in the public sector,” Ngige said.