Nigeria Court Restrains NLC and TUC From Strike Action Against Fuel Subsidy Removal

The Lagos High Court has issued an injunction against the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to stop a proposed strike action following the removal of fuel subsidies by the federal government. An indefinite strike was planned by the labour unions in response to the withdrawal of subsidy on petrol and diesel, which has led to a 40% increase in fuel prices to N283 per litre from N162.25. The Ministry of Labour and Employment successfully argued that the planned strike would cause “untold hardship” to the country and disrupt economic activities. As a result, Judge Abdulkadir Allagos has ordered that the two unions should not engage in picketing, peaceful demonstrations, or rallies until the substantive suit before the court is decided.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has called on the unions to engage in dialogue with the government to settle the disagreements that led to the proposed strike. At the time of the ruling, no response had been received from the leadership of the NLC and TUC. However, some civil society organisations have criticised the court’s decision, arguing that it impinges on the fundamental rights of workers to protest and defend their interests. The fuel price rise was justified by the government on the basis that it could no longer afford the subsidy in the wake of weak oil prices and rising debt. The subsidy had been a source of corruption for years, with previous administrations accused of colluding with fuel importers to pay out fraudulent subsidy claims.