NLC may escalate Kaduna strike to national industrial action
•To activate automatic strike upon fuel price hike
There are indications that the suspended protests by the organised labour over mass sack of workers in Kaduna may snowball into a national industrial action.
Also, Nigeria Labour Congress said its members would begin industrial action the very day the price of petrol is increased from the present N162 per litre without engagement with any organ of government.
This follows an approval of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC, which met last week Tuesday, 22nd June 2021. The virtual meeting, which was anchored from the NLC secretariat in Abuja, comprised all Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of NLC’s affiliate unions; Chairpersons and Secretaries of State Councils and the FCT and members of the National Administrative Council.
The meeting deliberated on the recent industrial action and protests in Kaduna and the proposal by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to increase the current price of petrol from the current 162 Naira per litre to between N380 Naira and N408 litre.
NLC noted that protests by workers in Kaduna State was triggered by the extreme right wing, neo-liberal, anti-workers and anti-people right sizing and restructuring policies of the Kaduna State Government which led to the sacking of thousands of workers.
It alleged that the mass sack of workers in the state was executed without recourse to the provisions of Section 20 of the Labour Act.
Indeed, between 31st March and 1st April 2021, thousands of workers were laid off from the unified local government system in Kaduna State, the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Agency and the KSMC.
It revealed that most of the affected workers had worked for between five and 32 years. NLC also frowned on the non-settlement of entitlements of the sacked workers whose disengagement letters had ‘Your entitlement will be paid in due course’, which indicated no specific date their entitlements would be paid.
The central labour body noted that till date, over 21,000 teachers and 7,000 other workers disengaged in 2017 by the Kaduna State Government have not received their entitlement in violation of extant provisions of labour laws.
NLC observed that the Kaduna State government is the only state government to date that has sacked workers in their thousands, reduced salaries and pension without recourse to the provisions of Nigeria’s labour laws.
NLC further noted that the suspension of its five-day warning strike and protests in Kaduna State was done upon the intervention of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment which brokered a conciliatory meeting.
It said that the conciliatory meeting, which produced a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the NLC and the Kaduna State Government has not been respected by the state government.
The Memorandum of Understanding stipulated that a 10-Person committee be constituted to ensure that all processes of disengaging any worker in Kaduna State is in conformity with Nigeria’s laws particularly Section 20 of the Labour Act and that the MoU categorically stated that no worker in Kaduna State would be victimized by the Kaduna State Government.
NLC stated that while it has upheld its side of the bargain as demanded by the MoU signed at the conciliatory meeting, the Kaduna State Government has continued to violate, with impunity, the provisions of the MoU especially the ‘no victimization’ clause.
It pointed to an alleged victimization and punitive transfer of the State Chairperson of the NLC Kaduna State Council to Birnin-Gwari, which is a very remote part of Kaduna State and currently ravaged by bandits.
It further stated that the 10-person committee as stipulated in the MoU is yet to be constituted by the Kaduna State Government.
NLC said that even when the violation of the MoU was brought to the attention of the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Kaduna State Government has resorted to further acts of intimidation, propaganda, half-truths, falsehood and outright lies against workers and trade unions.
NLC declared that since actions so far taken by the Kaduna State Government are anti-workers and anti-people and as such are counter-productive and that the policies of the Kaduna State Government violate human and trade union fundamental rights, especially the right to organise and the right to collective bargaining as provided for in Convention numbers 87 and 98 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), its members would withdraw their services on a yet-to-be-determined date.
“That the earlier decision of the National Executive Council (NEC) of Congress to withdraw all services nationwide and protest the extreme anti-workers policies of the Kaduna State Government should take effect without further delay. In tandem with the requirement of the law, this resolution serves as a notice to all employers of labour, effective from today, 22nd day of June 2021. That the mobilization of all NLC state councils and affiliate unions for the industrial action and protest should begin immediately,” it said.
NLC insisted that resorting to strike action and protest is the right of workers everywhere in the world even in very advanced countries, saying if there is anyone to blame for the decision of the congress, it must be Nasir el-Rufai, the Kaduna State Government and the Federal Government.
The organised labour also declared that it would proceed on indefinite industrial action the day the price of petrol is increased from its present N162 per litre without any notice to the Federal Government.
“On the proposed increase in the price of PMS between N308 – N408 by the Nigeria Governors Forum, the NEC resolved that the Nigerian workers will automatically down tools once an increase in the price of petrol is announced by the government.
“That the recent proposal by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum through the Nasir el-Rufai committee for an astronomical increase in the price of petrol from the current N162 per litre, to between N380 and N408 per litre which translates to about 300% increase is thoughtless, provocative and insensitive to the suffering majority of Nigerians, especially workers are going through at this time,” it said.
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