Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) yesterday encouraged the Nigeria Labour Congress , NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, to go ahead with today’s planned shutdown of Kaduna over what he and Labour agreed where undue interference in Labour matters and punishing policies of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state towards workers.
Sani, who joined politics by din of being a human right activist, gave his nod to Labour when Union leaders from the six Local Government Areas, LGAs, of his constituency visited him in his home, on what they said was a save-our-soul mission from their plight under the regime of the present state government.
Addressing the unionists, who had informed him about a mass rally planned today, Sani said:
“I have carefully listened to your complains and oral petition and your planned mass action tomorrow (today) and I want to say unambiguously that I am 100% in your support.
“The issues you raised are true and very germane. The issue you raised are the true precarious plight of the Nigerian worker, especially in Kaduna State. I am particularly disturbed by the position of people in power that came into office with the promise of change. They were voted into office to make condition of the masses and the Nigerian worker better. But today, we are living in reality of failure of that promise.
“If we speak truth to power and created a change of government, then power needs to speak truth to us. There is no doubt the economy is facing challenges. But, instead of governors embarking on white elephant project, the salary of workers must come first. Workers salary must come first before road construction, street light, bridges, housing estates, amusement parks etc etc. Workers salary must come first before any physical and immaterial projects.
“As you plan your mass rally, I stand by you. Any government that is against the issue of unionism, that government is anti-people. Workers are the backbone of every society and of every revolutionary change. Anybody that is standing for the division of workers union, is moving towards the persecution of workers. And any worker who rejects his union identity card is making himself vulnerable to persecution, retrenchment and is under the mercy of the whims and caprices of those in power.
“Nigerian workers are the most important segment of Nigerian society. The Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, the NLC, TUC, NUT must come together and defend the interest of its members, that is why I support your planned action.
“Any law, any Act and decree that subverts the fundamental rights and interest of Nigerian workers, disobey that law”, he said.
Speaking earlier, the leader of the delegation, comrade Yahaya Baban Kumbo, told the Senator that they had come to inform him that there was no time that their members had gone through the hardship they were undergoing. He said that some of them had not received salary since June last year, and that even those who got paid were never sure if they would get the next salary, aside from some unexplained deductions in their monthly take home.
“Today, we don’t know our fate. And now we are told to decide whether we want to belong to our unions of not. That is why we have come to you on a save-our-soul visit so that you can help us talk people in power about our plight. And I want to inform you that we shall all be moving from our local governments areas to Kaduna for a mass rally to call attention of everyone to our situation”, he said.
It could be recalled that last Saturday, the National secretariats of the NLC and the TUC had addressed the press in Kaduna and announced that all workers in the state would troop out for a mass rally today against what they said was undue interference in labour issues and sundry matters by the government of Kaduna state.