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FG warns workers against lock-out, picketing

The Federal Government has warned workers against locking out of duly appointed officers and picketing as a resolve to industrial disputes in the country.

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Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment gave this warning in a statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.

Ngige stated this in reaction to the recent spates of trade disputes between workers and their employers, especially in the Public Service of the Federation.

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He noted that these were issues regarding appointments, promotions, administrative postings, and discipline in the public service.

“Workers must engage in social dialogue in resolving industrial disputes as self-help such as lock-out of duly appointed officers and picketing are unconstitutional and an effrontery to the constitutional powers of the President who made such appointments.

“Federal Government wishes to use this medium to re-apprise Employees of Government and their respective Trade Unions that by virtue of the provisions of Section 130(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria

“This is as amended by Mr President, who is the Head of State and Chief Executive of the Federation.

“Section 169 of this same Constitution created the Public Civil Service of the Federation, while Section 170 allowed Mr President to delegate functions to any Member of the Civil/Public Service.

“Section 171 gave him powers to appoint persons to hold offices in the actualization of the contents of the two previous sections, ‘’he said.

Ngige, therefore, noted that the recent trade disputes in Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) was illegal.

He added that workers had embarked on illegal lockouts of officers duly appointed by Mr President as it happened in the National Population Commission (NPC), and the picketing in some Agencies and Ministries.

The minister said this was clearly violations of the constitutional powers of Mr President as Chief Executive and Appointing Authority.

“The same goes for establishments where workers have threatened forceful ejection, removal of Chief Executives and Permanent Secretaries over promotion, discipline, administrative postings, and even lawful employment of staff,‘’ he said.

He added that section 40 of the 1999 Constitution, permits persons to assemble freely and associate with other persons to the extent of forming Trade Unions or Political Parties.

The Minister, therefore, warns that Employers and Employees have rights imbued in the same Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the Land; and other laws/Acts flow out of this Constitution.

“Accordingly, an employer cannot dictate to workers how to run their Trade Unions, while the workers/Trade Unions have no right to blackmail or arm twist their employers on who to appoint, employ or when to appoint or employ.

“ To so do would go against the fundamental principles and rights at work enunciated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Such illicit industrial actions will not be condoned by the Government.

He further advised workers and Trade Unions who have grievances to channel such to the relevant authorities including but not limited to Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment .

He said this was in order to avoid unnecessary politicization at a time scoring cheap political points has become the order of the day. (NAN)

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