The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), have called on the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to respect the constitution of the country by obeying a court order and respecting the rights of workers in the transportation section in the state.
The labour unions warned that they will carry out a massive one-day warning strike across the state and may take further action on the matter if the governor refuses to heed the warning.
A letter jointly signed by the general secretaries of the two labour centres, Comrade Emma Ugboaja and Comrade Nuhu Toro,reads, “We wish to draw your attention to your government’s unacceptable violation of the country’s constitution which you have sworn to uphold, disobedience of court orders and abridgement of fundamental human rights as regards the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, and the National Union of Road Transport Workers NURTW.
“Your government, in gross violation of Section 40 of the Constitution which guarantees Nigerians the right to freedom of association, purported to have banned RTEAN and NUTRW. This is despite that section of the constitution stating unambiguously that the right to freely associate includes the right to form and belong to trade unions of one’s choice.
“Secondly, trade unions are on the Exclusive Legislative List, which in simple language means that states including Lagos State, do not have powers over trade unions not to talk about proscribing them. Thirdly, this act of your government violates Article 2 of the United Nations Declaration on Fundamental Human Rights which states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
“Fourthly, your government in purporting to proscribe RTEAN violates the International Labour Organisation, ILO Convention No 87 which guarantees humans the right to freely associate. Fifth, your government’s seizure of the RTEAN offices built by the union is a gross violation of the constitutional right to own property, and your constitutional duty to defend private property. Six, the seizure by your government of two TUC buses found in the premises of the RTEAN and repainting them is unacceptable Your government continues to hold on to the TUC buses and put them to use.
“Your Excellency, another issue in this unfolding drama is the blatant refusal to obey the courts of the land. In case you claim to be unaware, the National Industrial Court (NIC) which is an appellate court, ruled on April 18, 2023 that the actions of your government are illegal and in gross violation of the constitution.
“In SUIT NO: NICN/LA/381/LA2022, in which Your Excellency, your Attorney General, your Special Adviser, Hon. Sola Giwa, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police and 33 others are defendants, His Lordship Hon Justice M.N. Esowe declared that your government has no power to: dissolve the leadership of RTEAN operating in Lagos State and appoint a caretaker committee to run its affairs; inquire into any dispute within RTEAN’s operation in the state. Inquire into the composition of the union’s leadership, proceed to dissolve an elected executive committee and appoint a caretaker committee. The acts of your government are unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Given the above, the court made the following orders: perpetual injunction restraining Your Excellency and appointed officers from further interfering in the functions of Lagos State branch of the RTEAN and that the Lagos State Police Commissioner through his officers and men should refrain from intimidating and blocking access to the elected executive committee of the Lagos State branch of RTEAN, remove all barricades, forthwith recall all the armed policemen stationed at the union’s premises and allow the RTEAN elected officers unrestricted access to their premises.
“The TUC and NLC has gone this length to detail this case and the violations of the Lagos State government under your leadership with the hope that you will cause the right actions to be taken. However, if by Wednesday, May 31, 2023 you refuse and your government insists on these gross violations, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria TUC and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, whose affiliates, the Road Transport Employers Association RTEAN and National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW are, will carry out a one-day action in Lagos State.
“This will serve as a warning before the labour centre’s embark on full industrial strikes against your government until it agrees to obey the courts, the constitution and international conventions on the rights of human beings. We hope you will take advantage of this ultimatum. But if you allow this situation to further degenerate, the TUC, NLC and Nigerian workers might be compelled to use all legal means including international civil and criminal courts to bring Your Excellency and your appointees to justice.”