Our attention has been drawn to the threat by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige to outlaw warning strike and to invoke the clause of “no work no pay” in the event of the use of warning strike in the future as according to him, warning strike is not known to Labour Laws.
We are taken aback by the claims of the Honourable Minister. Accordingly, we find it necessary to state that whether warning strike is in the corpus of the Nigerian Labour Laws or not, unions over the years across all climes use warning strike as a bargaining device to bring to the negotiating table, recalcitrant employers or social partners.
In other words, it is a tradition that has acquired the force of law.
The efficacy of warning strike cannot be in doubt as it is reason why the government, led by the Honourable Minister himself is now negotiating with ASUP executives.
In the annals of labour history, warning strikes have had the distinguishing feature of saving the parties to disputes the rigours, costs and pains of full-blown strikes.
This, the Honourable Minister, a cerebral mind a former Union leader, very well knows.
Why then would the Honouràble Minister be canvassing a position that is at once extreme and intolerant of further dialogue which is the mainstay of Labour-Government relations!
We find it necessary to caution that a hasty resort to legalese as a basis for conflict resolution will not be helpful.
However, the truth of the matter is that if strikes are guaranteed by the law, we do not see how warning strikes can be illegal. We do not intend to resort to unnecessary pedantism, but quite often, a literal interpretation of the law falls short of the intendment of the law.
Accordingly, warning strikes will continue to be part of our engagement with all employers including government, when necessary. And we believe we are deserving of commendation for this thoughtfulness/ discretion and not vilification.