By; Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna.
National leadership of organised labour unions led by the President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Civil Society Organizations Wednesday converged in Kaduna in a solidarity protest rally against the Kaduna State governor, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai on what they described as anti labour policies.
The labour leaders in a very angry mood expressed displeasure over the government’s continued conduct of verification of civil servants even when the state was already owning the workers nine months salary arrears.
Addressing over 500,000 civil servant during the rally held at NLC state Secretariat, the state Chairman of NLC, Adamu Ango said the state is owning civil servants salary since June 2016 and wants to commence another round of verification with a clause to “de-unionise members”.
He said “Kaduna State Government is out to outlaw the labour union because they believe that only the union can standup against bad policies that are anti labour and anti people.
“A lot of workers are yet to be paid their salaries since June 2015. I want the two national President of the union to know that Kaduna State Government has a lot to do as far as the payment of salary is concern.
“Kaduna labour union advised government to settle the backlog of the salary arrears they own workers before they start another round of verification so that when they move, there will be no casualties behind.
“But they didn’t listen to us, all the time they said they will continue with verification when we have backlog of unpaid workers salaries. Mind you, we are not saying there shouldn’t be verification in the state, we are saying govt should clear the arrears it owes before embarking on another fresh verification.
“All we are saying is that clear the backlog first and remove this clause that said workers should indicate whether they are with union or not. Remember that in Kaduna now we are from monthly salary, we are now on quarterly salary. When we are ready to shutdown Kaduna State you will be adequately informed”, he said.
His TUC counterpart, Comr. Shehu Mohammed, in his address said “This gathering has no political undertone or political issue about the state as being speculated”.
He also stated that “We have been hearing that the office of Accountant General of the state has been threatening you that whoever signs ‘yes’ that he belongs to union will never be paid salary again. They have been brain washing you but you have to stand on your feet.
“Just like the saying that a bunch of brooms cannot be broken into pieces by one person no matter how strong the person, with your total support we can go extra mile to fight this course successfully”.
NUT Chairman among other official who spoke noted that “from what we heard from the two state union Chairmen, the situation in uncalled for. NUT condemns the action of Kaduna State Governor.
“Like the two Chairmen also said, we are not here to fight today, but to prepare ourselves, our arms for the day we will come here and fight our common enemy.
“Sometimes when I listen to people talking about insecurity in Nigeria repeatedly, there is one very fundamental factor that contribute to insecurity in Nigeria, that factor is non payment of salary to workers.
“So how can Kaduna State Government stay in Government House without paying salary? Can he say he is fighting insecurity when they are causing insecurity in the state, in Nigeria and outside Nigeria? NLC will not seat down to allow such thing to happen.
“The very day we are going to occupy Kaduna, we are going to destroy them.”
Issah Aremu, another official said they supported politicians to win election, “El-Rufai is one of the governor we thought is progressive that should be supported, but El-Rufai is paying good deed with bad policies.
“El-Rufai is a complete disappointment. And I think this governor has the privilege to retrieve his step. If he didn’t, the Nigerian workers have the capacity to recall any governor who is not serving the interest of the workers that elected them along others.
“I look at the verification form, it is more than verification form. It is an attempt to de-unionise the staffs. Membership of workers of the labour union is not negotiable, what El-Rufai is doing is unconstitutional”.
TUC and NLC Presidents; Comrade Bala Kaigama and Ayuba Waba promised to organised protest against the governors action begining from seven days from Wednesday to force government to pay workers and reverse decisions.