NLC, TUC in showdown with El-Rufai over attempt to outlaw unionism

NLC President, Wabba

NLC President, Wabba

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Baba Boboi Kaigama yesterday, drew battle lines with the Kaduna State Government over governor Nasir El-Rufai’s attempt to outlaw labour unions in the state.

Wabba and Kaigama visited Kaduna to register their displeasure with the development after attending the burial of the former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi, his wife and son in Kogi State.

They said their stand was informed by the decision of El-Rufai to issue verification forms to workers, wherein he asked if they wanted to be members of trade unions.

Wabba, who addressed thousands of workers in Kaduna, said the state government’s verification exercise is illegal, noting that the state cannot issue directives to workers on matters bordering on labour. He therefore urged the workers to jettison the verification forms.

The labour chief directed all labour leaders at various levels in the state to meet with all workers to prepare for a congress to be addressed by the two labour leaders (NLC and TUC) in a forthnight.

According to him, “All workers should attend this crucial congress, where we will take crucial decision against the anti-workers policies of the government in this state.”

Condemning attempt by El-Rufai to undermine labour through his policies, Wabba said, “The first fundamental right that workers earned after the Second World War as guaranteed by a UN charter is the right of every worker to belong to a trade union of their choice without interference. That was the first human right provision that was encapsulated in 1948. Any issue or decision taken against the workers is seen as interference and it has a global standard.” The TUC President, Comrade Kaigama accused El-Rufai of enacting anti-workers policies, noting that many workers died during the first verification of workers exercise he embarked upon, even as most of them are living without salaries.

Said Kaigama: “It is sad that my colleague and I had to rush to Kaduna today from the burial ceremony of the late minister to attend to this emergency that borders on El-Rufai’s attempt to outlaw unionism in Kaduna State.

“Comrades, on this issue, Nigerian workers are saying no; we cannot tolerate this. Time has come for us to tell employers of labour that we create the wealth of this country; nobody, no matter how highly placed, can tell us that they are more knowledgeable than us in matters of labour.”

Briefing the gathering on the violation of labour laws by the El-Rufai, the State Chairman of NLC, Mallam Adamu Ango said: “We received the forms which were distributed to Kaduna State Civil Servants, yesterday. The forms asked workers whether they would be part of union or not. I then called my President and the TUC President on the matter”.

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