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May Day: Minister Ngige Justifies Withholding Striking Workers’ Salaries



Chris Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has given reasons why workers in Nigeria do not obey laws.

Speaking on Arise Television’s Morning Show program, Ngige claimed that Nigerians do not like to obey laws, even though the statutes and laws of the country are in place.

News About Nigeria reports that Ngige, who has recently come under fire for withholding salaries of striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and health workers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Medical Association, said he became an “odd man” for enforcing Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, which denies workers entitlement to salary if they withdraw their services.

He explained that the right to strike is allowed, but the employer has the right to keep the money that is due to the workers.

He added that the International Labour Organization (ILO) statute books and principles on strike allow employers to employ people to keep essential services running during strikes.

The Minister’s statement came on the heels of Nigerian workers’ commemoration of “May Day”.

Ngige said;

“People in Nigeria don’t like to obey laws. The statutes are there. The laws of the country are there. If you even try to enforce the law, you look odd. I am an odd today because I enforced Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, which says that if a worker withdraws his services, he will not be entitled to any pay; that’s the right to go on strike. It’s allowed, you can go on strike.

“But your employer has the right to keep that money that is due to you, and if you’re on essential services employ people to keep the services running. It’s in the ILO statute books and principles on strike,” he added.

Ngige’s statement has received criticism from labour unions and civil society groups who argue that the government has failed to provide conducive working conditions for workers and have neglected their welfare.