By Bimbola Oyesola
The Centre for Labour Studies (CLS) yesterday said it would give unconditional and total support to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) strike commencing in Kaduna today, May 17.
The organisation, in a statement by its director, Femi Aborisade, called on all trade unions and pro-labour civil society and human rights organisations to join forces with the NLC in its strike in Kaduna State against the alleged obnoxious anti-worker policies, arbitrary and illegal declaration of redundancies; premature compulsory retirement of all officers on grade levels 14 and above, officers who are 50 years and above, and officers who have been in service for 30 years or more; conversion of permanent employees on grade levels 1-6 to casual workers status; and stoppage of pension for pensioners who have earned pension for five to 10 years but “have refused to die.”
“The right to pension is a constitutionally guaranteed right, which is also guaranteed in the civil and public service rules in Kaduna State. For the avoidance of any doubt, Rule 02809 of the Kaduna State Government Public Service Rules (2005) and Part II, Regulation 10(3)(c) at page 34 of the Unified Local Government Service Staff Regulations (2012), provide that ‘the compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier,’” he said.
According to Aborisade, the phenomenon of physical insecurity involving bloodshed, killings, abductions, kidnappings, insurgency and terrorism in Kaduna State is related to economic insecurity. He said, “It is an incontestable fact that Kaduna State has become one of the most dangerous states to visit, work or live in. This is because of massive layoffs, which the state government started in 2016/2017 when about 22,000 teachers, 8,000 workers in MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies), 800 workers in the state’s Internal Revenue Service department, and over 4,000 local government workers were laid off.
“This year, according to the NLC, the state government has disengaged 6,000 workers, including local government and primary health care workers. Eleven thousand workers have been short-listed for disengagement on account of being in service for 30 years and above and/or being on level 14 and above.”
He added that Nigeria is based on a written Constitution, and the courts have held that Public/Civil Service Rules, made pursuant to the Constitution, have constitutional flavour.
He stated further, “Governance by the whims and caprice of Mr. Governor is not compatible in a modern State. All other unions, including the TUC, should unite and join forces with the NLC to defeat the unitary ideology in industrial relations and the vicious war on workers’ rights being waged by the Kaduna State Government.