By Chioma Godwin
The Nigeria Labour Congress on Thursday 22 April, 2021, said it will withdraw services from both public and private organisations in Kaduna State for five days to protest mass sack of workers by the state government.
The decision to withdraw the services of workers was taken by the Central Working Committee of the NLC at a meeting in Abuja yesterday.
Addressing reporters at the end of the meeting, President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the five day withdrawal of service by workers in the state will become total if there is no remorse from the state government.
The NLC president said the action will be total, and unconditional, adding that all unions will be issuing statements and directives to their members to take the directive seriously and that the action will go ahead
He condemned the decision of the Governor, Nasir el-Rufai to sack close to 4, 000 workers who are mostly from the 23 local government areas in the state.
Wabba said: “CWC has decided and has also recommended to the National Executive Council, that labour will withdraw all services from either public or private. When I mean all services it means all services for all sectors of the economy for five days in the first instance and where there is no remorse, it is going to be a total action because we believe that el-Rufai is not alone in this action; that neo-liberal forces and some governments are also part of it.
“We wonder why this action (of sacking workers) has not been called to order by other agencies of government because of the grave implication of this action where political office holders violate laws and constitutional provisions with impunity and nobody is ready to call them to order. We thought that it is high time the workers also exercise their right to protect the rights of workers that are in Kaduna and their families.
“This action is going to be total, and unconditional and therefore, all unions will be issuing statements and directives to their members to take this directive seriously and that the action will go ahead. This action is taken as a last resort because all the communications that we have written so far on this issue has not received the attention of any person and therefore we thought that workers should not be allowed to die in silence because thousands of workers that have been sacked have not been paid in line with the provisions of the law and not only that, you cannot decide through a fiat what a worker will be paid when he/she is disengaged in this manner.
“More worrisome is the policy targeted at workers that have spent more than 30 years in service or some more than 20 years in service. In fact the policy said that once you are up to 50 years in service you will be disengaged and be sent off like slave or at worse like a dog without any entitlement.
“Secondly, the letter which we have seen, indicated that their entitlement will be paid in due course and that is the same letter that was issued to those teachers that were disengaged a year ago and therefore we look at this as very serious; in fact it is something every Nigerian must condemn at this time and period that workers will be sent out in this manner. It is a very serious issue that I think every right thinking Nigerian must back labour and this action that labour has proposed to be taken against the Kaduna state governor; who I think from all intent and purposes is driving neo-liberal policy.”
Wabba noted that the governor violated all the known laws that regulate labour and industrial relation in Nigeria with some sort of disdain while carrying out his decision to sack the workers.
He stated that some teachers disengaged by the state government were yet to receive their entitlements till date.
The NLC president added: “The entire working class in Nigeria have condemned the massive sack of thousands of workers in Kaduna. The CWC condemns the conversion of workers to casuals by the Kaduna state government under the pretext of paucity of funds or drop in revenue.
“CWC has posited and looked at all the facts associated with this issue and have said that the Kaduna state governor, as usual, has violated all the known laws that regulate labour and industrial relation in Nigeria with some sort of disdain because casualisation is criminalised in Nigeria.
“Secondly, the law of redundancy on how to declare redundancy is also very clear and for the avoidance of doubt, the CWC reasoned that whereas the position of the law is very clear about the fact that trade unions and workers representatives must first be consulted before declaration of any redundancy.
“Even the terms and scope of redundancy must be discussed and agreed. There are precedents and requirements to be met before declaring redundancy. All of these have been violated and it is a matter of grave concern to Nigerians and Nigerian workers and that is why it is condemnable.
“The issue of using as an excuse, the paucity of funds is also faulted because of the fact that the same state declared an excess of over N50 billion as internally generated revenue and we know as a matter of fact that Kaduna state is one of the states receiving fat revenue from the federation account and therefore one wonders why Kaduna state government will indulge in this anti-people and anti-workers posture and decision.
“CWC also reasoned that even those that were disengaged by the same el-Rufai were not paid. The teachers that were disengaged in their thousands with the so – called competency test even when we complained then that even deceased teachers were on the list of those who passed the competency test and therefore justified the fact that the competency test was a mere excuse to actually sack workers. Those workers in their thousands have not been paid their benefits as required by law and therefore that is why CWC is taking this issue seriously.
“CWC also reasoned that the insecurity in the country, but particularly in Kaduna, which we have raised more than a year ago that with the mass sack of workers; it then means that bread winners will not be able to take care of their families and their children will be thrown out of school and therefore the security situation will get compounded.
“Our fears have been justified because it is a fact now that in the entire country one of the most unsecured state is Kaduna; where even to travel by road between Abuja and Kaduna have become so unsafe that people now have to resort to using train.
“There is no day that passes by without citizens getting kidnapped for ransom. I am sure this situation is going to be compounded and therefore, CWC is recommending to the meeting of the National Executive Council; which is to take place immediately the line of action that is to be taken against the Kaduna state government of having violated the position of our laws.”