By Victor Ahiuma-Young
ORGANISED Labour, yesterday threatened to mobilise workers, students, civil society groups, market women, among others, to shut down Kaduna over alleged anti-workers polices, among other alleged excesses of Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
Speaking through Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, labour said should Governor El-Rufai continue his perceived unfair policies against workers and other ordinary Nigerians in the state, what labour did in Imo State in February 2016, when Governor Rochas Okorocha sacked 3,000 workers, would be a child’s play to what would be done in Kanduna State.
TUC, in a statement by its President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama in Abuja , lamented that all efforts by the TUC, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Joint Council in Kaduna State to prevail on Governor El-Rufai to cease his alleged siege on workers and trade unions in the state had been treated with contempt.
According to the statement: “As we write, the Kaduna State Governor is compelling workers in the state against their will to choose whether to belong to Trade Unions or opt out of the Trade Union system completely. By his bizarre actions, Governor El-Rufai may think that he is destroying the trade unions in the state but what he is actually displaying is his lack of elementary knowledge of labour laws in the country because even though the law permits the worker to opt out of trade union, it is not the responsibility of the Governor to force him or her to do so.
”El-Rufai further exposed his ignorance when he told a national newspaper recently that he decided to destroy the union in Kaduna State because N2,000 was deducted from a worker’s salary as union dues and that when he multiplied that amount with the number of Kaduna State Government employees, including the local government staff, he came to the spurious conclusion that the union collects N170 million as check-off dues. It is really a pity that a governor of a state in Nigeria does not know that union dues is not a flat rate of N2,000 for every employee and that there are about 15 unions in the public service of a state that are entitled to union dues based on a rate approved by the Registrar of trade unions.
”El-Rufai even wants the workers to pay tax on union dues deducted from their own salary.”
The TUC contended that Labour Matters, which included the trade unions were listed under item 34 in the Second Schedule of the Exclusive Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and as such the Kaduna State governor has no legal authority to write his own labour laws.
“Besides, El-Rufai is neither the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment nor the Registrar of Trade Unions and so should desist forthwith from rewriting Nigerian Labour Laws through the backdoors to massage his bestial ego. Section 5(3) of the Labour Act and Section 17 (a) and (b) of the Trade Unions Act clearly provide that: “upon the registration and recognition of any of the trade unions specified in Part A of schedule 3 of the Trade Unions Act, the employer SHALL make deduction from the wages of all workers eligible to be members of the union for the purpose of paying contributions to the trade unions so recognized.”
“The law didn’t give El-Rufai or any other person for that matter the latitude to start asking workers to indicate whether they want to join a union or not. Check off deduction by law is automatic. By his action, El-Rufai now sees himself as headmaster dictating to his pupils on what to do and what not to do. He has no such powers,” the Union reiterated Vanguard