Nigerian govt implements ‘No Work, No Pay’ law to curb incessant strikes
The federal government Wednesday said it was prepared to enforce a provision in Trade Union Act which stipulates that workers should not be paid during the period that they embark on strike.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of yesterday’s weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the Presidential Villa, the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, said the move to implement the provision was spurred by the recent plethora of strikes embarked upon by various unions particularly in the academic and health sectors without complying with relevant laws.
Ngige who also said the provision stipulates that the period of the industrial action is not pensionable, added that henceforth, collective bargaining agreement containing output of negotiations during industrial actions should be signed and domiciled in the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity. This will mark a departure from the norm where agreements during negotiations are not signed and officially documented with the ministry.
FEC decision was the offshoot of the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee set up by the council last year to examine matters bordering on industrial relations in the country.
While the minister did not state the exact time that the implementation would take off, he said he was mandated by the council to inform workers that the law was still in force, pointing out that the ministry had also been mandated to stop union leaders who fail to comply with the law of the land by permanently serving as union leaders.
According to him, such labour leaders have to be made to comply with the laws of the land on union activities.
“There were certain industrial relations matter that were looked into by council. Council had earlier mandated the SGF to set up a committee on industrial relations matter in the federal public service. The committee was set up precisely on April 27, 2016. It was chaired by the SGF and co-chaired by Head of Service of the Federation.
“We had constituent members of the committee from National Income Wages and Service Commission, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Science and Technology and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and they produced a report. This report was all encompassing and council considered it today.
“First and foremost, the report emphasised the need for government to implement the law on no work, no pay. No work, no pay is not a rule neither is it a policy. It is a law captured in the Trade Dispute Act of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria – Section 43 to be precise. It says that workers have the right to disengage their services from their employers if there is a breakdown of negotiations but for the period that the workers do so, the employers should not pay and those periods are to be counted as non-pensionable times.
“So, the council today emphasised that the law is still in place and the law should be brought to the knowledge of workers in the public sector, in the private sector especially those in the public sector. We have to do that because of the spate of industrial crises we suffered in the last two months where we had a plethora of strikes all over the place. So, council is saying we should emphasise this to workers. On the strike embarked upon the last time, we ‘ll see what we can do about that.
“Secondly, we looked at another recommendation in terms of people who are permanently doing union activities. They are presidents of trade unions for life. They criticise those who are trying to do third term or fourth term but they sit tight. So, my ministry was asked to fish out those unions whose constitutions do not have term limit. Such unions should be made to comply with the law so people can be elected; they serve their terms and go,” Ngige said.
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