EL-Rufai, workers on collision course over union membership

Nasir El-Rufai

Nasir El-Rufai

The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and workers under the aegis of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) may be on a collusion course over alleged anti-labour practices by the state.

Specifically, the workers in a statement said to have been concluded plans mobilise thousands of workers, students, civil society groups, market women, among others, to shut down Kaduna metropolis to check the excesses of the State Governor, just as it did in February 2016 in Imo State against Governor Rochas Okorocha after he sacked 3,000 workers.

According to the TUC President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, all efforts by the TUC, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Joint Council in Kaduna state to prevail on El-Rufai to cease his siege on workers and their trade unions have proved abortive, hence the workers’ resolve to shut down the state in protest.

“As we write, the Kaduna State Governor is compelling workers in the State against will to either 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 his responsibility to force him or her to do so,”

“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 ₦2,000 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 union lamented.

Besides, it pointed out that Labour Matters, which include the trade unions are 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 governor has no legal authority to write his own labour laws.

“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 ego,” the TUC emphasized.

The Union also posited that 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,” it reiterated.

It urged the governor to concentrate on providing democracy dividends such as good roads, decent and affordable housing, qualitative education, healthcare service, food, potable water, electricity, etc, to the teeming Kaduna State residents instead of dissipating energy demolishing houses, fighting workers and their trade unions, religious groups and imaginary foes as well as engaging in physical combat with his deputy.

“In particular, we urge the All Progressives Congress (APC) that came to power under the banner of change to call its Governors to order because during the campaign the Nigerian people were never told that the party will wage war against workers as we have seen in Imo, and Kaduna States.

“To El Rufai, we say he is on honeymoon in Government House, Kaduna, and he should continue to enjoy himself. At the fullness of time, Nigerian workers will surely stand up and make a statement which will definitely put El-Rufai and his likes where they rightly belong: the dustbin of history. Nigerian workers and their teeming allies in the civil society groups are watching, 2019 will soon be here,“ the TUC said.

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