Nigerian Labour Unions, NLC, TUC Threaten Lagos Governor, Sanwo-Olu For Suspending Road Transport Workers Association, RTEAN

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The unions said it would be left with no option than to mobilize its members to embark on industrial strikes in the state if the government fails to meet the ultimatum.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have given the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led Lagos State Government till Wednesday, May 30, 2023 to obey court order and remove all the barricades and armed policemen stationed at the premises of offices of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) or face industrial action.

The unions said it would be left with no option than to mobilize its members to embark on industrial strikes in the state if the government fails to meet the ultimatum.

The labour union also said the seizure of RTEAN offices across the state and two buses belonging to TUC at by the Lagos State Government was tantamount to theft.

This was contained in a letter addressed to the governor and jointly signed by Comrade Nuhu A. Toro and Comrade Emma Ugbuaja.

The statement bemoaned the action of the Governor and Lagos State Police Command for continued disobedience of order of National Industrial Court of April 18, 2023 which described the actions of Lagos State Government as illegal and gross violation of the constitution.

The trade unions added that the purported banning the operation of RTEAN and NUTRW violated Section 40 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to freedom of association

The statement read in part “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 this right to freely associate includes the right to form and belong to trade unions of their 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.

“Sixth, the seizure by your government of two TUC buses found in the premises of the RTEAN and repainting them, has no other word but theft. It is unacceptable that your government continues to hold on to the TUC buses and putting them to use.”

While making reference to the ruling of National Industrial Court In SUIT NO: NICN/LA/381/LA2022 on April 18, 2023 which restrained the government and its agent from dissolving the leadership of RTEAN operating in Lagos State and appoint a Caretaker Committee to run its affairs, the statement faulted the government for feigning ignorance of the order.

The statement also threatened to use all legal means including international civil and criminal courts to bring the Governor and his appointees to justice if the situation degenerates.

“Your Excellency, 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 30, 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, will carry out a one-day action in Lagos State.

“This will serve as a warning before the labour center’s embark on full industrial strikes and actions 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,” the trade unions added.

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