The federal government has declared the proposed Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) protest in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as illegal.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Lai Mohammed, stated this while briefing journalists on the decisions of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
The NLC had planned to embark on a nationwide protest in support of ASUU on July 26 and 27.
ASUU embarked on strike in February to demand the implementation of the agreement it reached with the federal government.
But Mr Mohammed said “such protests are uncalled for and illegal.”
According to the minister, the NLC is not a political party and it is not in dispute with government.
“I think we should also start to interrogate what labour is doing. The NLC is not a political party. The NLC can go on strike or protest if the rights of NLC members are involved. What the NLC is planning in the next two days is about interest.
“There’s no dispute whatsoever between NLC as a body with the federal government.
“Well yes, that’s a dispute between some members of NLC, ASUU, and the federal government which is being looked into. And NLC itself is a party to the committee that is looking into the solution. So, calling out people on street protest you begin to wonder, what is the motive of NLC in this matter?
“But you see here, we do not interrogate what NLC is doing. NLC by its own laws cannot even give out pamphlets.
“And NLC is supposed to be completely insulated from politics. Now, if you declare dispute with us, yes you can go on strike. Even that one would depend on whether certain steps have been taken or not.
“But this particular NLC, you know, asking and mobilising people to come out on strike on July 26, and July 27, is clearly on nothing, ” Mr Mohammed said.
Also commenting on the threat by aviation unions to shut down airports in solidarity with ASUU, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, expressed concern about the threat.
He, however, assured the public that “the threat will not be carried out because aviation authorities are already talking to the union.”
“I’m naturally concerned about this if the aviation union will shut down in support of ASUU. I would say they have no need to.
“I will say also that we should begin to look at civil aviation as a critical national security enterprise. It has all the implications.
“We should not contemplate or think about an aviation disaster. We should also think about the general activity on the economy of Nigeria without civil aviation..
“I think it should be reconsidered. So, civil aviation workers, I think should not be part of this.
“Yes, I am concerned and yes we’ve spoken to them and I don’t think they will join because they know that there’s huge responsibility of lives on their heads.”
NLC has planned to embark on a nationwide protest in support of the striking members of ASUU on July 26 and 27.