From Bimbola Oyesola, Noah Ebije, Kaduna, Gyang Bere, Jos and Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The strike by organised labour to press down the demand for the recall of over 400 workers sacked by the Kaduna State government and other anti-labour actives turned violent yesterday as protesters and thugs clashed leaving many injured.
The Federal Government Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) and All Progressives Congress(APC) Governor’s Forum have, however waded into the crisis appealing to the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasiru El Rufai, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba and President of the Trade Union Congress, Rasheed Olawale to cease fire.
Minister of Labour and Employment in a statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry , Charles Akpan said: “We also appeal the to the leaders of the labour centres to step down action to make way for discussion. My Ministry is wading into the matter and therefore calls on the two warring parties to give peace a chance.”
The minister also appealed to all workers on essential duties, including doctors and nurses not to join the strike.
Ngige also expressed the confidence that a week-long fruitful consultations with all the critical stakeholders would end the debilitating strike by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria when conciliation resumes Thursday.
NGF Chairman and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, in a statement, said the forum is concerned about the impact of the strike on Kaduna and its citizens.
While calling for dialogue and negotiations which is a long standing dispute mechanism in labour relations, the northern governors called for restraint and de-escalation of the situation to enable for amicable settlement of the issues in question.
He said this is only possible when both parties operate within the law and approved conventions in ventilating their grievances as well as avoid making comments or taking actions that will further exacerbate the situation thereby heightening tension.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday, vowed to escalate the current black out in Kaduna State to all parts of Nigeria should the governors’ forum fail to call Governor Nasir El-Rufai to order.
It decried that the peaceful rally commenced by the NLC and its affiliates on Monday in support of the total shut down of facilities and economy in the state was disrupted by thugs supposed to have been sponsored by the El-Rufai-led government.
The governor, earlier in the morning on his Twitter handle had twitted: “Ayuba Wabba and others of @NLCHeadquarters declared wanted for economic sabotage and 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.”
Governor El-Rufai said the action of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leaders is not different from that of bandits and Kidnappers.
El-Rufai vowed that his administration would not tolerate criminal acts disguised as industrial action.
Special Adviser to the Governor (Media and Communication), Muyiwa Adekeye stated this in a statement , shortly after NLC ended yesterday’s edition of the strike.
The governor also threatened to dismiss all nurses below GL 14 for going on the strike.
Said El-Rufai:“Salaries that could have gone to them are to be given as extraordinary occupational allowances to the health workers who are at their duty posts to fill the gap of those absconding from duty. The Ministry of Health has been directed to advertise vacancies for the immediate recruitment of new nurses to replace those dismissed.
“Any academic staff of Kaduna State University (KASU) that does not report for work will be dismissed. The authorities of KASU are to submit a copy of the attendance register for all categories of staff daily to the Secretary to the State Government and the Commissioner for Education. All MDAs are also to submit daily copies of attendance register to the head of service;
“KDSG considers, as unacceptable, the serial violations of the Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Trade Union Act that have occurred over the last two days. The state government commends citizens for remaining calm amidst this assault on their rights and comfort and their businesses.“
The All Progressives Congress(APC) Governor’s Forum in a statement signed by its Chairman and Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu noted that labour ought to have considered the global economy recession and rescind their action.
“The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) has been following unfolding development between Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Kaduna State Government over the issue of right-sizing local government employees with deep concerns. Noting all the challenges facing all our states, especially given dwindling revenue, we appeal to all patriotic Nigerians, including the NLC, to demonstrate more commitment toward engaging governments at all levels to address problems. This is not the time for muscle flexing.”
“We appeal to both the state government and NLC to return to the negotiating table. In particular, we want to appeal to the NLC leadership to recognise that the burden of leadership at this point is more about responding to challenges based on the honest disposition of correcting past mistakes.”