Organized labour have threatened to shut down Kaduna State in protest against the new rules of engagement put in place by Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The state Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, said the government had issued a form titled “Special Exercise on Staff Verification”, where it requested all workers under its payroll to either fill a “Yes or No”, for membership of union.
Addressing a large crowd of workers that converged on the Kaduna NLC Secretariat, the National President of Trade Union Congress, TUC, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and his NLC counterpart, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in their separate speeches, submitted that no reasonable government will deny workers of their fundamental rights to belong to a union for protection of their rights.
The labour leaders, therefore, asked Gov. El-Rufai to expunge the portion of the verification form that appeared to be anti-labour or face very strong actions that will ground the state.
Wabba, who said no worker has right to opt out of union and enjoy minimum wage, emphasised that the 1948 UN Charter gives rights to workers to belong to trade union of their choice.
He added: “If workers have gone through several verification exercises, why this one again? Any verification form issued without the consent of either labour or government is unacceptable”.
While urging all labour leaders in the state to call for an emergency meeting to discuss and decide the next line of action before Wednesday, when joint decision will be taken, the NLC leader ordered all civil servants in the state not to fill any anti-labour forms, stressing, “we must continue to insist that workers must work freely without intimidation”.
In the same vein, the TUC leader, who said time had come to tell government that workers are the owners of the land, said “We hold El-Rufai in high esteem, but it is sad that someone that was an executive council member, does not know that union membership is not the issue of government, [it] is an aberration”.
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman of NLC in Kaduna, Comrade Adamu Ango, accused the state government of pushing labour unions to the wall but they are prepared to fight back.
However, in a swift response to the threat to lockdown the state, Special Assistant to Governor El-Rufai on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, said the government respects the right of workers to freedom of association.