NLC Protest Rally in Kaduna: El-Rufai Given 7 Days Ultimatum to Pay Salary arrears
The national president of NLC, TUC and Civil Society Organizations yesterday staged a protest rally in Kaduna against what they described as ‘anti-Labour Union policies’ of Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The labour leaders were down-to-earth with anger that the state government had continued to conduct verification of civil servants even when the state was already in arrears of nine months’ workers salary.
Addressing over 500,000 civil servants during the rally held at NLC state Secretariat, Kaduna, the State chairman of Labour Comr. Ango Adamu, said the State owes civil servants’ salaries since June 2016, and wants to commence another verification exercise with a clause in form to de-unionise members.
He said, “Kaduna state government is out to outlaw the Labour Union because they believe that only the Union can stand up 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 presidents of the Union to know that Kaduna state government has a lot to do as far as the payment of salary is concerned.
“Kaduna Labour Union advised the government to settle the backlog of the salary arrears they owe 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 government should clear the arrears it owes so many workers 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 have moved from monthly salary to 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 any 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 (workers) that whoever signs ‘yes’ – that he belongs to Union, will never be paid salary again. They have been brainwashing 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 is the person, with your total support we can go extra mile to fight this course successively.”
NUT chairman, among other officials who spoke, noted that, “From what we heard from the two State Union chairmen, the situation is 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 contributes to insecurity in Nigeria, that factor is nonpayment of salary to workers. So, how can Kaduna state government stay in Government House without paying salary? Can’t say he is fighting insecurity when they are causing insecurity in the state, in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. NLC will not sit 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, Barr. Festus Okoye of Civil Society said they supported politicians to win election, El-Rufai is one the governors we thought was the youngest progressive that should be supported, but El-Rufai is one person that is seen as ‘one good turn does not deserve another.’
“After supporting him, he pays back workers the goodwill with bad policy. It’s 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’s more than verification form. It’s attempt to de-unionise the staffs. Membership of workers of the Labour Union is not negotiable. What El-Rufai is doing is unconstitutional.
They further said, “We have to start the process of recalling the governor from office. We are going to mobilize for his impeachment from office.”
Representatives of TUC and NLC President, Comr. Bala Kaigama and Ayuba Waba, promised to organise subsequent protest against the governor’s action, beginning from seven days from Wednesday, to force government to pay workers and retrieve her decisions.