News - May 20, 2021

Attack on protesting Kaduna workers: ITUC-Africa writes El-Rufai, Nigerian govt.

The  African  Regional  Organisation  of  the  International  Trade  Union
Confederation  (ITUC-Africa) has condemned last Tuesday’s attack by hoodlums on protesting Kaduna State workers.
On Tuesday, the workers were a peaceful march in continuation of their protest over what they called “the reign of industrial tyranny and impunity by the Kaduna State Governor.”
However, what the workers planned to be peaceful turned violent on following coordinated attacks on them by elements suspected to have been sponsored by the state government.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, has since reacted over the attack, accusing the State governor, Nasir el-Rufai of instigating and sponsoring the hoodlums ro attack the workers, while security operatives watched.
Shocked by reports about the incident, the ITUC-Africa, representing  over  17 million
workers in 52 of the 54 African countries, including Nigeria, expressed worry, describing it as  “dangerous, crude,  uncivil  and  incompatible  with  the  ethos  of  participatory
democracy provisions and good governance.”
“No doubt, this action by the Kaduna State Governor is  a flagrant  negation  of  the  laid  down  principles  for  resolving  industrial
disputes. 
“To  unleash  hired  and  paid  thugs  on  protesting  workers  is  an  invitation  to further anarchy and chaos. It is repressible and reckless,” the ITUC-Africa said in a statement signed by its General Secretary, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah.
The protest letter was copied to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
The ITUC-Africa said the NLC issued sufficient notice to the  Kaduna  State government about the strike in line with the provisions of the extant
laws  of  Nigeria  regulating  industrial  relations. 
The group said NLC’s action foowed calls  on  the  Kaduna  State  government  to  desist  from its unilateral  decision to sack over  7,000  workers  from  the  state  civil  service, totaling  over  70,000  affected  workers  within  the  past  six  years. 
“The dismissal  processes  have  been without  the  observation  of  the laid  down  provisions for  engaging  in  such  exercise.
“Worse,  affected  workers  have  not  been  paid  their disengagement  entitlements.  The NLC protest action, among other demands, was
mainly  to  insist  that  rules  are  respected  and  applied. 
“The  Kaduna  State government’s  response  spells  of  utter  bad  faith  and indifference,” the group said.
The  ITUC-Africa said it observed further a  systematic pattern by the state government to orchestrate the
attacks, citing newspaper reports about el-Rufai boasting and
declaring his readiness  to  confront  the  protesting  workers  under  the  banner  of  the NLC. 
The group condemned the governor for using verified Twitter handle  @elrufai, to tweet inciting messahes  against the workers and the leadership of the NLC.
For instance, the group drew attention to the tweet by the governor on Tuesday titled:  “KADUNA  UPDATE:  Ayuba  Wabba  and  others  of @NLCHeadquarters declared wanted  for  economic  sabotage  &  attacks  on  public
infrastructure  under Miscellaneous  Offences Act. Anyone that knows where he is hiding  should  send  a message to @MOJKADUNA, KDSG. There will be a handsome
reward”.
“We find this beyond belief. The ITUC-Africa finds these open and audacious incitements to violent attacks against peaceful and legitimate workers’ action as unacceptable and condemnable. We ask the Kaduna State Governor and Government to refrain from further confrontational and chaos-inducing actions.
“We urge them to urgently and genuinely embrace genuine
dialogue.
“For emphasis, we wish to remind the Government of Kaduna State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the country is a responsible member of The International Labour Organisation (ILO). The country has ratified Conventions 87 (Freedom of
Association and Protection of the Right to Organise) and 98 (Right to Organise and to Collective Bargain) that both, ditto other similar international instruments, have
provisions in letters and spirit that adequately ensure the right of workers to organise and to undertake peaceful and legitimate industrial actions as means to protect their
workplace and economic rights. It is, therefore, unfathomable and conscienceless that peaceful workers are subjected to open and inviting incitement of violent attacks.
“Let it be known that the ITUC-Africa will report this matter to the forthcoming International Labour Conference (ILC) and invite the conference to examine these crass
and crude infractions of her statutes and provisions.
“Further, the ITUC-Africa also calls on the various and relevant security agencies and agents to rise to the challenge of ensuring adequate security protection for peaceful
protesters as consistent with the provisions of the charter of the African Commission on
Human and People’s Right (ACHPR), which Nigeria is a signatory.
“We urge the Nigerian Federal Government to call on the Kaduna State Government to respect the provisions of the extant legislative and administrative national, continental and international instruments that she is a signatory to. Finally, we urge the Kaduna
State Government to embrace genuine negotiation with the organised labour. Everyone
wins when spaces are allowed for reasons and rules to govern industrial relationships.”

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