Workers’ sack: Tension in Kaduna as NLC strike begins today
Tension is brewing in Kaduna State as the state government warns the Nigeria Labour Congress to steer clear of the state, declaring that the ban on public procession is still in force in the state.
The state chapter of the NLC led by its Chairman, Ayuba Suleiman, resolved to ground all activities for five days as directed by its national leadership to serve as a warning, following the sacking of no fewer than 4,000 state workers in April.
Suleiman and the NLC Secretary, Christiana Bawa, in a statement, said beginning from Sunday (today) at 12am, all workers in the state would down tools.
However, the state Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Jafaru Sani, said the state had allegedly uncovered plots by the NLC to recruit hoodlums from other states to cause mayhem under the pretext of going on strike.
Sani, who spoke at a press conference in Kaduna on Saturday, reminded the unionists that the ban on public procession was still active. He added that the state had notified security agencies about the planned strike, saying necessary steps would be taken to thwart the violent intent of the organisers.
The commissioner said, “Apart from the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 protocols, a ban on public processions subsists in this state. This was imposed precisely because of the violence that has frequently broken out from such processions even when they began with innocent intent.”
According to him, the state government will protect its facilities and the right of its staff to access and work in their offices.
“It is unlawful for anyone to try to deny them access or exit. Government offices are not the property of any trade unionist and none of them should entertain thoughts of locking up or vandalising any facility,” Jafaru added.
Justifying the planned “rightsizing of workers,” the commissioner argued that “Kaduna State pays salaries to its workers, but it also invests to develop the state, as every fair-minded person can see. But when its revenues drop, it will do what rational people do by reducing its expenses.”
The commissioner added, “This government was not elected to devote most public funds to paying government workers and treat that as its defining governance mission, to the detriment of developing the state and its people.”
He said the state was the first subnational to start paying the minimum wage, arguing that the government would not continue “spending 84 per cent to 96 per cent of its FAAC receipts on salaries and personnel costs as has been the experience of the state since October 2020.”
But the state chapter of the NLC directed workers to disregard the government’s circular over the five-day warning strike.
Bawa, in a statement on Saturday, noted that no state worker under the administration of Governor Nasir El-Rufai was safe from disengagement.
She said, “This is the time to tell the world that the Kaduna State Government is anti-worker and wants to destroy the civil service in the name of reform. Enough of the sacking of workers by the Kaduna State Government.”
She added that the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, and other national presidents with general secretaries of affiliates would be in the state to ensure full enforcement of the strike.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna branches of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers are set to join the NLC strike with effect from midnight on Sunday (today) to 12am on Friday, May 21.
In a letter titled ‘Notice of Strike Action at Kaduna Airport,’ signed by the secretaries of the three unions and addressed to the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Capt Rabiu Yadudu, they directed all Kaduna airport workers to withdraw all their services during the period in order for management of the airport to take maximum steps in securing valuable airport property.
It read in part, “We are constrained to inform you that in compliance with the industrial action declared in Kaduna by the NLC, our unions as above shall proceed to effect the action from midnight of Sunday the 16th of May, 2021 to midnight of Friday, the 21st of May, 2021.
“Accordingly, all workers of the Kaduna Airport have been directed to withdraw all services at the airport within the stipulated period. In effect, there will be no operations of any kind into, at, or out of the airport during the period.”