The Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) has called on the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute the electricity workers for the strike action they embarked upon on 17th of August, 2022.
According to the advocacy group, the electricity workers are essential services workers like the police or army and therefore barred from embarking on strike actions.
“If electricity workers can embark on strikes, then members of the Nigerian Police and military- Army, Navy and Airforce can also embark on strike actions. Such a situation is unimaginable. That is why the law prohibits such strike actions,” CASER stated.
It said since 2014 it had been at the forefront of calling for proper legal action against trade unions in Nigeria which embark on illegal strike actions, especially in the essential services sectors of health and education.
“It is criminal by the provisions of Section 31 (6) of the Trade Unions Act for workers in the essential services sector to embark on strike actions, but the failure of successive administrations to deal with this mindless criminality has led to the present worsening and highly embarrassing situation where even electricity workers have now decided to disregard the law by embarking on debilitating strike action on the 17th of August 2022.
“Thus, irrespective of the propriety or genuineness of the demands of any Nigerian workers union, they are barred by Nigerian law from embarking on strike actions if they are engaged in the provision of essential services.
The group lamented that “in that short period for which power generation and distribution were wholly shut down in Nigeria, the electricity union succeeded in inflicting untold hardships on Nigerians and caused losses in the billions of Naira to Nigerian businesses, adding that this is unacceptable!
In the statement dated 18th August, 2022 and signed by the group’s Director, Barrister Frank Tietie, a lawyer and social crusader, it cited the definition of acts of terrorism as contained in Section 1 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act ( as Amended) to back up its claim that the strike action amounted to an act of terrorism.
“What the electricity workers have done is not different from acts by a terrorist group such as Boko Haram,” it added.
“Therefore, it is only appropriate to institute criminal proceedings against them to serve as deterrence to other unions in the essential services sector that may contemplate any illegal strikes.