The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has resolved to declare an industrial action nationwide if the Kaduna State government goes ahead with its plans to sack civil servants.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
Mr Wabba did not explain the appropriateness of shutting down other states of the federation over an action taken by Kaduna State.
Last week, Governor Nasir El-Rufai announced the plan to disengage civil servants in the state, citing fiscal reasons.
Mr El-Rufai said a significant amount of the statutory federal allocations to the state is being spent on the wages of public servants.
According to the governor, the decision was one of the necessary moves to salvage the state’s finances.
“Therefore, the state government has no choice but to shed some weight and reduce the size of the public service. It is a painful but necessary step to take, for the sake of the majority of the people of this state,” the governor was quoted in a statement.
“The public service of the state with less than 100,000 employees and their families cannot be consuming more than 90% of government resources, with little left to positively impact the lives of the more than 9 million that are not political appointees or civil servants.
“It is gross injustice for such a micro minority to consume the majority of the resources of the State,” Mr El-Rufai said.
Although silent on the number of workers to be sacked, the state promised to work with the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAS) to expedite payments of the contributory pension benefits to cushion the effect of the disengagement.
Mr El-Rufai also vowed to give “preferential treatment to those disengaged that are willing to take advantage of the state government’s various agricultural and entrepreneurship development schemes.”
Displeased with Kaduna
Apparently displeased with the plan, Mr Wabba said the decision of the Kaduna government “falls short of the legal process of redundancy in the Labour Act”.
“He has violated the fundamental law that guides redundancy. Section 20 of the Labour Act. It provided three very important points that must be addressed before you declare redundancy. Item 1 says the employer shall inform the trade union, or workers’ representatives in this case, about the extent of anticipated redundancy. So, before you even anticipate, you must first inform the union which is the workers’ representatives.”
Mr Wabba said the Kaduna governor “failed to consult with the trade union or negotiate the payments to the workers to be disengaged”.
The NLC President also disputed Mr El-Rufai’s claims and figures on the amount expended on salaries of civil servants.
“What he (El-Rufai) quoted as what is being paid to workers as salary is not correct because we are aware that he included the salary of political office holders.”
Mr Wabba, however, did not provide what the correct figure should be.
He also said 90 per cent of over 20,000 teachers laid off by the El-Rufai-led administration in 2017 are yet to be paid their terminal benefits. PREMIUM TIMES is unable to confirm this as of the time this report was published Tuesday.
Mr Wabba said the NLC at a meeting of its National Representatives Council decided that the workers in the state should down their tools, “after which a nationwide solidarity strike will follow if Mr El-Rufai insists on the planned retrenchment”.
“So as I speak to you, that decision has already been taken by the national representatives’ council. The national executive council of the TUC and NLC will meet on Thursday to actually adopt that decision.
“When it is adopted we’re going to give you specific dates time on our that that decision will be taken,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
He added that the NLC has written to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the governor to order.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson to the Kaduna Governor, Muyiwa Adekeye, was yet to respond to enquiries on the number of those to be sacked and allegations levelled by the NLC President.
Mr Adekeye acknowledged the receipt of PREMIUM TIMES’ questions on Monday morning but was yet to send his reply as of the time of this report.
Following the upward review of the nation’s minimum wage to N30,000 in 2019 and the reduction in revenues as a result of the drop in oil price, states of the federation have been having difficulty paying salaries and allowances of their workers.
In March, the Kano State government slashed the salaries of its political office holders by 50 per cent. Later it announced that it was reverting to the N18,000 minimum wage regime for civil servants.
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