- Kick against el-Rufai’s new rules engagement
Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress,TUC, yesterday threatened to shut down Kaduna State to protest against the new rules of engagement introduced by Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The Kaduna State Chapter of NLC, said the state government had issued out a form , titled ; Special Exercise on Staff Verification, where it requested all workers under its payroll to either fill a “Yes or No”, for membership of union .
Addressing a large crowd of workers that converged on the Kaduna NLC Secretariat, the Chairman of TUC, Comrade Boiboi Kaigama and his NLC counterpart, Comrade Ayuba Waba, in their separate speeches submitted that no reasonable government all will deny workers of their fundamental rights to belong to a union for protection of their rights.
The unions chairmen asked Governor El-Rufai to expunge the portion of the verification form that appeared to be anti-labour union or face backlash from the workers.
Waba , who adduced the 1948 UN Charter that gives rights to workers to belong to trade union of their choice, said no workers has right to opt out of union and enjoy minimum wage.
“If workers have gone through several verification exercises , why this one again. Any verification form issued without the consent of either labour or govt is unacceptable,” he said and directed civil servants in the state not to fill any anti labour forms.
“We must continue to insist that workers must work under free atmosphere without intimidation.”
Similarly, President of TUC , Boiboi who said time has come to tell government that workers are the owners of the land. “Law says deduct and remit to union secretariat, but we have noticed that politicians see workers as slaves and we are prepared to go all out to fight them.”
“Position of TUC is that the clause should be removed. I have never seen where verification is done without union representatives .There must be an agreement between workers, state govt and union,” he said noting that trade unions must be independent.
Earlier in his speech , Kaduna NLC Chairman, Comrade Adamu Ango said government of Kaduna state has pushed labour unions to the wall and they are prepared to fight back.
“It is an attempt to outlaw unionism that forms were distributed to workers asking them whether or not they want will belong to union or not,” he stated.
In a swift reaction, the state government in press release signed by Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan said the government respects the right of workers to freedom of association.
According to the statement , the government considered that it is democratic that those who wish to exercise this right or not should indicate in writing.
“The leadership of the Kaduna State NLC recently had a meeting with the Governor at which they expressed their objection to making union membership voluntary and its implications for checkoff dues.
“Although the law obliges employers to collect dues on behalf of unions, it is not at all clear if the law makes union membership compulsory. This situation arose after some local governments had their accounts garnished by banks because of loans they guaranteed for some labour unions.”