Kaduna Mass Sack: ILAW, CLS Back NLC’s 5-Day Warning Strike

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THE International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW), Nigeria Chapter, and Centre for Labour Studies on Friday came out strongly to express their full backing for the five-day warning strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which commences on the midnight of Sunday, May 16, 2021 in Kaduna.

Governor Nasir-el-Rufai

The warning strike which is planned to totally shut down Kaduna’s economy is to protest the recent sacking of over 4,000 workers sacked from the Kaduna State public service by the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led government of the state. The government plans to sack more civil servants on the excuse that the resources available to the state government are not sufficient to pay workers and at the same execute projects.

In a press statement entitled: “We Are With Nigeria Labour Congress,” signed by Adesina Oke Esq.; Femi Aborisade Esq.; Jessica  Samuel Jaja Esq.; Benson Upah Esq.; and Onyeisi Chiemeke Esq. on behalf of ILAW Nigeria; the organization condemns “in strong terms” the mass sack and the threat to sack more workers in the days ahead.

“The conduct of the government is an affront to law, morality and well-being  of the affected workers with grave security implications for the entire country.

“The mass sack and proposed sack are defective legally and procedurally in light of the terms and conditions governing their employment and disengagement.

“We are afraid; the motivations of the Kaduna State Government are ill-informed, uncharitable, defective and counter-productive.

“Violations of our extant labour laws on this scale not only trivialise our democracy but constitute  an invitation to anarchy especially in light of the fact that the already disengaged workers have not been paid their terminal benefits, neither is there any plan to pay those to follow.

“The indescribable hardship this foists on the workers in this era of multiple denials, is better left to the imagination.

“It is an obvious fact that it is not only on these workers that the burden of survival rests but their numerous dependants as well as those whose economic activities and daily subsistence rest on the working class.

“We are appalled by this level of recklessness, insensitivity and lawlessness.

“We had thought that some lessons have been learnt from the purges of the Murtala Muhammed regime of the ’70s which laid the foundation of the destruction of the civil service in the country from which it is yet to recover.

“Progressive or insightful governments around the world in this covid era are focused on saving or creating jobs and not destroying existing ones.

“In light of this, we urge Mallam El-Rufai to avert his mind to this truth by recalling unfairly sacked workers as well as put on hold further mass sack; else he would have unwittingly written himself into the history of the damned.

“In pursuance of this, we declare our unequivocal support for the protest/strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress in Kaduna State starting on Monday, May 17 2021.

“We accordingly urge our members across the country to mobilise to Kaduna to render services as may be required by circumstances,” ILAW stated.

In a similar vein, Ibadan-based Centre for Labour Studies (CLS) also on Friday unequivocally expressed its support for the protest as it called on pro-labour civil society and human rights organisations to join forces with the NLC in its just strike in Kaduna State against the “obnoxious anti-worker policies.”

In a statement by Comrade Femi Aborisade, human rights activist, lawyer and Director of CLS, dated 14th May 2021, the Centre, while saying it “unconditionally and totally supports the NLC” also stated that the prevailing insecurity in the country and especially in Kaduna State is related to economic insecurity.

Aborisade said: “We call on all trade unions and pro-labour civil society and human rights organizations to join forces with the NLC in its just strike in Kaduna State against the following obnoxious anti-worker policies: arbitrary and illegal declaration of redundancies; premature compulsory retirement of all officers on grade levels 14 and above, officers who are 50 years and above, and officers who have been in service for 30 years or more; conversion of permanent employees on grade levels 1-6 to casual workers status and stoppage of pension for pensioners who have earned pension for 5 to 10 years but ‘have refused to die’.

“The right to pension is a constitutionally guaranteed right, which is also guaranteed in the civil and public service rules in Kaduna State. For the avoidance of any doubt, Rule 02809 of the Kaduna State Government Public Service Rules (2005) and Part II, Regulation 10(3)(c) at page 34 of the Unified Local Government Service Staff Regulations (2012), provide that “the compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.

“The phenomenon of physical insecurity involving bloodshed, killings, abductions, kidnappings, insurgency and terrorism in Kaduna State is related to economic insecurity. It is an incontestable fact that Kaduna State has become one of the most dangerous states to visit, work or live. This is because of massive layoffs which the State Government started in 2016/2017 when about 22,000 teachers, 8,000 workers in MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies), 800 workers in the state’s Internal Revenue Service Dept, and over 4,000 local government workers were laid off.

“This year, according to the NLC, the State Government has disengaged 6,000 workers, including local government and primary health care workers. Eleven thousand (11,000) workers have been short-listed for disengagement on account of being in service for 30 years and above and/or being on level 14 and above.

“Nigeria is a country based on a written Constitution. The Courts have held that Public/Civil Service Rules, made pursuant to the Constitution, have constitutional flavor. Governance by the whims and caprice of Mr. Governor is not compatible in a modern State. All other unions, including the TUC, should unite and join forces with the NLC to defeat the unitary ideology in industrial relations and the vicious war on workers’ rights being waged by the Kaduna State Government. Otherwise, other State Governments would emulate the draconian and wicked labour policies and practices in Kaduna State and workers’ rights in other states nationally would come under severe threat.”

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