Workers have right to decide their membership of trade unions, El-Rufai insists

Nasir El-Rufai

Nasir El-Rufai

The controversy generated over Kaduna State government’s directive to civil servants in the state to determine if they want to continue their membership of any trade union bodies under the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) deepened at the weekend, as Governor Nasir El-Rufai insisted that the workers have the right to decide their status with Labour.

The issuance of verification forms to all the civil servants in the state by the government, whereby they were asked to specify their future relationship with trade union organisations led both the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba and his counterpart of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Baba Kaigama, visiting the state.

Wabba and Kaigama said that workers in the state should be mobilised by the local union leaders for a congress where stern decision would be taken against El-Rufai’s government on his alleged anti-workers policies. They added that the government has no power to give directives to workers over labour issues.

However, reacting to Labour’s stance, the state government at the weekend said: “Workers in the state have the right to decide if they want to belong to any union as members or not.”

A statement by the media aide to the governor, Mallam Samuel Aruwan, pointed out that: “Leadership of the state NLC recently had a meeting with the governor where they expressed their objection to making union membership voluntary and its implications for check-off 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 councils had their accounts garnisheed by banks because of loans they guaranteed for some labour unions.

“Both sides also agreed to review the union membership issue once the forms are returned by workers and the data compiled.”

Meanwhile, Labour has rejected the position of the state government on the verification forms circulated to workers to state if they want to continue being members of trade unions.

Wabba who addressed the workers on Saturday, said that the verification exercise is illegal.

TUC President, Kaigama said: “It is sad that my colleague and I have to rush to Kaduna today to attend to this emergency issues that borders on Governor El-Rufai’s attempt to outlaw union membership in Kaduna State.”

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 will be part of union or not. I then called my President and the TUC President on the matter.

“All of us by our appointment letters are automatic members of our unions. Collectively we came into the union, but we cannot go out of the union individually.”

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