Jonathan moves to clamp down on labour unions

Senator sees the law as the hand of Lokpobiri but the voice of Jonathan

Nearly two months after a crippling nationwide strike forced government to reverse the cut in fuel subsidy, a new effort, said to have the blessing of the presidency, is pushing for tougher labour laws that will block industrial actions by making it hard for union leaders to enjoy support from their members.

An amendment to the federal Trade Union Act aims to introduce extensive balloting on a decision to call strike, with majority of federal, state and private sector workers required to give an approval before one is decided.

The legislation, if approved, will replace the current procedure in which an industrial action is decided by the national executive of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) and the Trade Union Congress(TUC).

Heineken Lokpobiri, a senator, who is proposing the move, represents President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state of Bayelsa.

The proposal sparked divisions within the senate on Tuesday as it was presented for a second reading, with lawmakers viewing the amendment as pro-presidency, and linking it to January’s fuel subsidy demonstrations.

“This particular bill is anti-people, anti-masses, anti-senate and anti-national assembly,  said Action Congress of Nigeria senator, Chris Ngige, who represents Anambra state. “This bill is not for us.”

Another senator, Smart Adeyemi, representing Kogi state, said the effort to get the law passed was an “exercise in futility” since currently, strikes are not called by individuals as claimed by the sponsor of the amendment, but by representatives of workers.

The bill was first read on February 15, 2012, barely weeks after the protests, and but some of its details have just been made known.

Calling a strike will require a simple majority of all members of the labour unions, who will answer yes to whether or not an industrial action be held across the nation, before a decision is reached, a procedure seen to be nearly impossible.

Many lawmakers have vowed to block the passage of the law.

In the face of stiff opposition, Senate president, David Mark, said he will not call for the withdrawal of the bill, but will allow it through a “logical conclusion.”

But the sponsor, Mr. Lokpobiri, said the amendment to the Trade Union Act was needed to “bring the practice of industrial action in line with global best practices as obtainable in Great Britain, USA, Canada, France, Belgium, South Africa etc,”.

“In that way, no worker(s) would have to be compelled by the leaders of his union against his will to stay away from work,” Mr. Lokpobiri said.

 “Acts of compulsion in the name of picketing which often result in intimidation, molestation and even violence among union members, would be a thing of the past,” he adds.


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  • Femabbas

    With this bill, Jonathan seems to have headed for the political gallows. Let him go ahead. We shall all live to see how it ends.

  • Suleiman

    We have not seen the worst of this incompetent president yet. Why does Jonathan enjoy heating the polit? It is a sign of incompetence, devide and rule and a man who has no clue about governance. Jonathan became president simply because he was the one-eyed man in the city of the blind. Ordinaty, this idiot won’t be elected president but thanks tp Death. Yar’Aduwa’s death gave him the presidency on a platter of gold. Jonathan must be careful not to destoy all the minorities aspriting to be president some day even if he does not intend to constest a gain. The man who grew up without shoes now has a free plane and many pairs of shoes. Now he wants to take yours so you can feel what he felt, growing up a poor village boy from Etuase.

  • Ajani1957

    It’s very simple to know who Mr Lokpobiri is working for. If he thinks that that is how things will be going, man, he got it all wrong. Like he argued, he wants it as it is in GB, USA,Canada and other civilized countries. Just one question for Mr Senator Lokpobiri. If he were to be from any of these countries, would he be suitable to be elected as a senator. Let him tell us how much a senator in the USA, GB, France etc earns. Yeye man

  • gringory99

    jonathando of nigerando why you want to kill workers and middle class masses,and before you claim to be one of them.

  • dilio

    A complete mad man in the making

  • dilio

    Also bring Nigerian living standard, salary, Hospitals, Roads, power, Transportation, and security to the standard Great Britain, USA, Canada, France, Belgium and South Africa foolish Lokpobiri full of Ogogoro