From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Bimbola Oyesola and Sola Ojo Kaduna
The five-day industrial action embarked upon by organised labour for the recall of over 400 workers and other anti-labour activities by the Kaduna State Government was called off yesterday following the intervention of the Federal Government.
President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the union had to call off the strike to participate in a meeting involving all parties to the crisis summoned by the Federal Government.
The NLC also accused Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai of sacking of over 7,000 workers since he assumed power.
Addressing the media around 7.20p.m in Kaduna on Wednesday, Wabba said the suspension was at the instance of various intervention of the Federal Government, Governors Forum and others.
According to him, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment sent a letter to the NLC yesterday for a meeting between the two warring parties.
“We have said that we are open to negotiation and as we have gotten the letter today inviting us for a meeting tomorrow by the Minister of Labour, we intend to attend and because of that we want to announce that we are suspending the action,” he said.
Wabba said the leadership had to hold an emergency meeting of both the National Administrative Council (NAC) and the National Executive Council (NEC) to deliberate on the next line of action before arriving at the decision.
He however said that the Congress would hold an emergency meeting on May 25 to further review the action in Kaduna State and the report of meeting with the Federal Government. Wabba explained that all the leadership of the Congress and the Kaduna State council will attend the meeting today as the state was the one directly involved.
He said the strike and the protest have been successful, praising all affiliates of the Congress for their resolute in pursuing the struggle.
“I want to commend all the Kaduna residents for their supports while the action last. No doubt the strike has been successful and we thank the people of Kaduna for believing in us,” he said.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has assured the Federal Government was working to end the labour crisis in Kaduna State, even as it is taking steps to prevent a breakdown of law and order nationwide.
“The Federal Government is not folding its arms and already the minister of Labour and Employment has waded in and is in touch with Kaduna State government and the labour.
“In addition, the security apparatus all over the country have also taken pre-emptive measures to ensure hoodlums don’t take advantage of this situation. In particular, I know the police have reinforced its patrol between Kaduna and Abuja, so that we do not witness kidnappers taking advantage of the situation.
“Overall, I think the Federal Government is quite concerned and is doing its best to see how the two parties can resolve their misunderstandings amicably, with little loss to productivity, little loss to property.
“At the end of the day, all the parties have to come back to the drawing table to agree and hammer out concessions and agreements,” he said.
Prior to the suspension, the NLC had said none of the actions by the Kaduna State Government will deter the workers from continuing with the strikes as another round of sponsored armed thugs took over the workers secretariat, yesterday, morning to disturb the protest.
The thugs, numbering about 50, were later dislodged by the security personnel before the workers could assemble around 10a.m from where they moved to the Kaduna State Secretariat.
The protest, yesterday, however took a different dimension as another group of protesters purported to have been sponsored by the state government were sighted at NEPA Junction with different placards where the thugs attacked workers on Tuesday.
Also sighted in the morning was a group of women who came to protest against labour, but had to fight their contractors for the failure to pay them.