Communique of the National Administrative Council of the Congress, 14/04/2021
A meeting of the National Administrative Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress held today, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. The meeting received and discussed reports of Congress activities and Committees, the retrenchment of workers and conversion of workers to casuals by the Kaduna State Government and workers challenges in Imo.
After an exhaustive deliberation, the NAC-in-session noted and resolved as follows:
1) May Day
The meeting adopted as theme for this year’s May Day, “Economic Crisis: Challenges for Decent Jobs, Social Protection and Peoples Welfare”.
The meeting noted that the management of the Eagle Square had been written for the use of the Square as venue for the celebration of May Day with a caveat that in observance of the Covid-19 protocols, only a half of the capacity of the Square would be used.
This means that only 2, 500 workers would be allowed into the Square on May Day.
2) Retrenchment and Conversion of Workers to Casuals by Kaduna State Government
The NAC-in-session received a report about the continued offensive by the Kaduna State Government against workers in the state including:
a) Retirement of workers from grade levels 14 upward; or
b) Workers who have attained the age of 50 irrespective of their grade level, all in clear violation of redundancy laws, contract of employment signed by workers at the point of entry.
The meeting learnt that the Governor hinged his actions on paucity of funds, his inclination to build a state that is attractive to the private sector to the exclusion of the public sector, as well as develop the state and not just pay salaries.
The meeting however noted that the State had publicly declared that it had grown internally generated revenue from N13 billion in 2015 to over N40 billion in 2020, implying that the IGR increased by about 16 % a year in real terms, after taking into consideration inflation. This means that the IGR is now about equal to FAAC allocations or half the total income of the state. The NAC expressed curiosity to know what the Governor did with this enhanced IGR.
But beside this, NAC expressed dismay at attempts to create a nexus between payroll and FAAC allocations, given the fact that spendings on wages and salaries in 2019 (according to latest available audited accounts) constituted about a third of what was spent on capital projects. Coupled with this, the monies owed in salaries, pensions and other benefits grew exponentially in 2019, and by the end of the year, 40 % of the debt of the state was borrowed from wages, that is, N132 billion out of the N152 billion spent by the state in 2019 was borrowed from wages. What this means is that about 90 % of capital spending by the state was financed from or by unpaid salaries, pensions, etc, illegally.
The meeting found curious, the Governor’s notion of building a modern state as it would be a state without public service: well-motivated teachers, health workers, doctors, nurses, local government staff and other workers. It would be a model modern state exclusively for the well-heeled and soul-less members of the private sector. Yet he is a grand beneficiary of the public school system, from primary to university.
The NAC said this would be an aberration and perversion of development as it imposes on workers lowest possible salaries and worst work conditions as well as consigns them to dungeons, beaten into submission and periodically terrorised with mass sackings.
The NAC also took note of the humongous loans Governor El-Rufai has taken from the World Bank and China to fund his urban renewal project and reasoned that the current anti-workers policies could be part of the conditionalities of the loans.
The meeting noted that the State Government had earlier sacked about 25,000 teachers, 5,000 without paying their terminal benefits and had outsourced grade levels 1-6 in violation of their human and trade union rights. His actions also violate with impunity our labour laws and best trade union practices.
The meeting observed that the Kaduna State Governor had consistently represented the worst face of neo-liberalism, especially the Bretton Wood institutions, from which it desperately sought a loan and whose bidding it was doing with remorseless cruelty as even markets had been pulled down to create space for the privileged few.
The meeting noted that the Governor’s continued acts of cruelty have further exacerbated the security situation in the state.
In light of the unrelenting declaration of war against workers in the state and the inherent danger to workers in other states and the country at large, the NAC recommend to CWC and NEC the following actions;
a) Embark on a five-day complete withdrawal of services by all unions in both private and public sectors in Kaduna State, which shall be followed by a 5-day national solidarity action if the issues remain unresolved;
b) Target Governor El-Rufai’s business interests wherever they may be found.
3) Imo State
The meeting also received and discussed the situation in Imo State including irregular payment of salaries, non-payment of pensions, non-payment of national minimum wage and harassment of union leaders, shutting down their secretariats and use of thugs to inflict injuries; and the effort Congress leadership had made to amicably resolve these issues by sending two delegations and direct intervention by Congress President, all to no avail.
The meeting expressed outrage at these increasingly anti-union activities by the Imo State Government and accordingly resolved to:
a) Mobilise to the state to do a mass action to compel the Governor to respect our Labour laws and practices and urged all Presidents and General Secretaries of unions to be on ground on the appointed day;
b) The NAC however said that in order to avoid being spread thin, the Imo protest could only take place after Kaduna.
4) National Strike action by JUSUN and ASUP
The NAC expressed solidarity with ASUP and JUSUN, noting that, having issued all the required notices, it was expected that government would amicably resolve all the issues in contention instead of allowing them to degenerate into full strike actions.
The NAC nonetheless called on the government to do the needful by quickly intervening so that industrial harmony could return to the two sectors.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni Comrade Ismail Bello
President Ag. General Secretary