Olaleye Idowu

Barely few hours to the commencement of strike called by the Nigeria labour congress, the federal government of Nigeria has warned all civil servants on salary grade 12 and above as well as those on essential service to be at work from Monday even as labour insists strike must go on.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, in a circular dated September 25, 2020, asked those civil servants still working to shun the industrial action. The circular which was addressed to all ministers, permanent secretaries, as well as heads of government’s agencies and Parastatal, was titled, ‘The Nigerian labour unions planned industrial action.’

The circular, which was seen trending on social media and which was verified by our correspondent at the ministry stated; “Sequel to the call by the labour unions for workers to embark on industrial action from Monday, September 28, 2020, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation wishes to inform all public servants that the Federal Government team is currently engaging with the labour unions with a view to resolving all contentious issues and avert the planned industrial action.

“Furthermore, it is important to note that there is a court injunction granted by the National Industrial Court (Suit No. NICN/ABJ/253/2020) on September 24, 2020, restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria from embarking on any tom of industrial action pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only civil servants on SGL 12 and above, as well as those on essential services, are working while others are advised to work from home.

“Accordingly, all officers on Grade Level 12 and above and those on essential services are hereby strongly advised to be at work to perform their official duties.”

The National Industrial Court in Abuja had on Thursday granted an order of interim injunction restraining the unions from disrupting, restraining, picketing or preventing the workers or ordinary Nigerians from accessing their offices to carry out their legitimate duties on September 28, 2020, or any other date.

Justice Ibrahim Galadima, who also issued an interim order restraining the labour unions from embarking on the strike action, gave the ruling following an ex parte application filed by a group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association, through their counsel, Sunusi Musa.

The court also granted an order compelling the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General, Department of State Services, to provide protection for workers engaged in their legitimate duties from any form of harassment, intimidation and bullying by the officers, agents or privies of the unions pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

In reaction to the ruling, the police said it will be guided by the position of the law on the matter as the force spokesman, Dcp Frank MBA while responding to journalists, was quoted as saying “what does the law says in this circumstance? adding that the police would enforce the law and that its the only thing he can say for now!

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