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Labour’s June 3 Strike Notice Premature, Illegal — AGF

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, has deemed the June 3, 2024, notice of industrial action issued by Organised Labour as “premature, ineffectual, and illegal.”

In a letter dated June 1, 2024, Fagbemi addressed his concerns to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Joe Ajaero and Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Festus Osifo, emphasizing the legal shortcomings of the planned strike.

The labour unions argue that the current minimum wage of ₦30,000 is insufficient for the average Nigerian worker. 

They highlight that many governors are not adhering to this wage, which expired in April 2024, five years after the Minimum Wage Act of 2019 was enacted by former President Muhammadu Buhari. 

The Act mandates a review every five years to align with economic demands.

In response to these economic pressures, Labour had set a deadline of May 31 for the Federal Government to announce a new minimum wage. 

Following the government’s failure to meet this deadline, labour leaders declared a nationwide strike set to commence on June 3, 2024. 

The strike was further fueled by the government’s inability to agree on a new minimum wage and a reversal of the recent electricity tariff hike.

During negotiations, Labour rejected three of the government’s proposals, the latest offering being ₦60,000. 

The NLC and TUC held firm on their demand for a ₦497,000 minimum wage, eventually pulling out of negotiations.

AGF Fagbemi has urged the unions to return to the negotiating table, suggesting that dialogue is a more constructive approach than industrial action.

 He cited Sections 41(1) and 42(1) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004 (as amended), which mandate a minimum of 15 days’ notice before any strike action can commence. 

Additionally, he pointed to an interim injunction issued by an Abuja court on June 5, 2023, which restrains the NLC and TUC from striking.

 This injunction, Fagbemi noted, has not been overturned or stayed, making any strike action legally binding.

“Consequent on the foregoing, the call to industrial action is premature, ineffectual, and illegal,” Fagbemi wrote. He also noted that the proposed strike conflicts with the National Industrial Court’s order and ongoing mediation efforts related to the dispute

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