The Nigeria Labour Congress,NLC has called on the Federal Government to urgently resolve the issues in dispute in order to end the on-going strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities,ASUU.
NLC made this call as part of its Communique at the end of its Central Working Committee meeting on August 24th in Abuja.
NLC said “The CWC deliberated on the on-going nation-wide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The meeting resolved that the strike was preventable, and regretted that again the Federal Government has precipitated the strike action, as it failed to implement the 2009 agreement it reached with the Union.
“The CWC called on the Federal Government to urgently, resolve the issues in dispute, to avoid the escalating of the strike action, as other unions in the educational sector who are also affected by the 2009 agreement in the sector are mobilising to enter the fray as has been the case in our recent past.
“The meeting further called on the Government to note that collective agreements are sacrosanct and must be respected by the parties to the agreement.
Read the Communique below:
COMMUNIQUE OF THE CENTRAL WORKING COMMITTEE (CWC) MEETING OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS, HELD ON 24TH AUGUST 2017, AT THE AUDITORIUM OF PASCHAL BAFYAU LABOUR HOUSE, CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT, ABUJA.
The Central Working Committee (CWC) of Nigeria Labour Congress was convened a day after the highly successful national colloquium on “The Labour movement and the future of a United Nigeria: what role for restructuring”, which held at LadiKwali Hall of Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja on 23rd August, 2017. The CWC met to review the colloquium and other issues in the polity that affect the lives of the working people and Nigerians in general.
At the end of deliberations on a number of national issues, the CWC resolves as follows:
- NLC AND THE DISCOURSE ON RESTRUCTURING:
The CWC reviewed the colloquium on the agitation for restructuring and the role of the labour movement. The CWC expressed appreciation to all the invited guests whose participation elevated the level of debate and discussion during the colloquium. It expressed gratitude to the Chairman of the occasion, Justice Alfa Belgore (rtd), GCON, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, and the special guest of honour, His Eminence, Sultan Mohammed Sa’ad 111.
Similar appreciation was extended to the Lead presenter, Prof Sam Egwu of the Department of Political Science University of Jos, Minister of Labour & Employment Senator (Dr) Chris Ngigeand the discussants, including Profs. G.G. Darah, Toye Olorode and Jibo Ibrahim, as well as comrade Adams Oshiomole, mni, immediate past governor of Edo State, and all former Presidents and General Secretaries and Verterans of NLC. The CWC similarly expressed gratitude to the leaders of ethnic nationalities and civil society organisations who honoured our invitation as guests to the colloquium;which include our counterpart, the Trade Union Congress.
From the discussion at the colloquium and deliberations at the meeting, the CWC notes that the issue of restructuring has many dimensions, as it is also intricate. The CWC further noted that many of the discourses around the topic of restructuring have not paid adequate attention to the question of wealth distribution in the Nigerian society.
The CWC at the end of deliberations on the subject matterof devolution of powers, resolved to set up a committee to harmonise the various views expressed at the meeting, with a view to articulating a Congress position on the issues for subsequent presentation to the organs of the NLC.
GOVERNORS, PARIS CLUB REFUNDS AND PAYMENT OF WORKERS OUTSTANDING SALARIES AND PENSIONS.
The CWC reviewed the continuing non-payment for many months of outstanding salaries of workers in some states of the federation, as well as arrears of pensions, which has also ran into several months.
The above scenario, the meeting observed, is the actual situation despite President Mohammed Buhari’s passion to address this mattersince he assumed office in May 2015, by giving a bail out to Governors to clear this shameful state of affairs with the nation’s work force. In addition, the Federal Government has further released two tranches of the Paris Club refunds to State Governments with specific appeals to them and commitment by the Governors Forum to use the refunds for the settlement of arrears of salaries and pension owed by various States to their civil servants and retirees.
The CWC observed further with dismay that Mr. President’s laudable interventions notwithstanding, States like Kogi, Benue, Bayelsa are still owing workers 5 – 10 months in salaries arrears and pension. There are other cases like Kaduna and Zamfara states that have refused to disclose any information about how it had utilized the bailout and Paris clubs refund despite demand from the unions and the general public.
The CWC stated that several efforts by unions and workers in the affected States to know what these State Governors are using these funds for, have yielded little or no results. The CWC therefore, directed the Congress leadership to write Mr President, now that he has returned from his medical leave, to ensure that the Governors are made to transparently account for the bail outs given by the Federal Government, as well as the two tranches of the Paris Club refunds so far distributed to the State Governments.
The meeting also resolved to call on Mr President to direct the Minister of Finance not to release the 3rd and final tranche of the Paris Club refund, till the Governors give a concrete commitment to use it topay the backlog of salaries and pensions.
The meeting further agreed on leading an engagement rally to Statesto nameand shamestates in default, as well as applaudand support those that are up to date in payment.
CWC further directed all workers, pensioners and their families to extend maximum support to those Governors that have utilized their funds judiciously. They should equally take advantage of the on-going voters registration exercise to obtain their permanent voters cards.
ON THE SITUATION IN THE POWER SECTOR:
The CWC reviewed the continuing poor service delivery in the power sector. The meeting observed that since the current administration came to power in May 2015, it had given N740 billion to the power sector as intervention fund, without much to show for it. The CWC therefore cannot comprehend the rationale behind the administration’s preparedness to give a further N39 billion to bailoutthe Distribution Companies (DISCOS) for metering purposes. There is no guarantee that the Discos won’t go back cap-in-hand to government again on the issue of provision of meters, as the Minister of Power recently disclosed that Discos needs about N220 billion to provide meters to Nigerians.
Given that one of the condition precedent for the privatization by the last administration was that the new owners would provide meters for customers within 24 or so months, CWC felt that the defaulting DISCOS ought to face sanctions and not additional bailout.
The situation in the sector rather than improve, it is deteriorating. For instance, in the FCT, DISCOS are busy disconnecting street lights in estates. Across the country, artificial billing is still going on, and most industries have been subjected to perpetual use of private generators to power their plants. This has made production in Nigeria too expensive and non-competitive.
CWC therefore called for an urgent and proper auditing of the money spent in the effort to revive the power sector since 1999, which rather than transform into increase light provision, has produced tens if not hundreds of billionaires, as a result of the diversion of the budgeted funds to private pockets. Nothing illustrates this better than a recent report which showed that in the almost 18 years of the current democratic dispensation, over N11trillion has been expended from the public treasury to lift the power sector to no avail.
COMPOSITION OF NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE:
The CWC note with anticipation, the information provided to it by the leadership of Congress that the Federal Government has finally decided to constitute the National Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee and that the Organized Labour had submitted the list of its membership to the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The meeting called on the Federal Government to commence negotiation immediately, as the negotiating committee ought to have been put in place several months ago in line with the 2011 Collective Agreement. Against the background of the impoverishment of Nigerian workers generally, government and the tripartite partners need to fast track and conclude the negotiations in time, to address the deteriorated purchasing power of Nigerian Workers.
ON THE ON-GOING ASUU STRIKE:
The CWC deliberated on the on-going nation-wide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The meeting resolved that the strike was preventable, and regretted that again the Federal Government has precipitated the strike action, as it failed to implement the 2009 agreement it reached with the Union.
The CWC called on the Federal Government to urgently, resolve the issues in dispute, to avoid the escalating of the strike action, as other unions in the educational sector who are also affected by the 2009 agreement in the sector are mobilising to enter the fray as has been the case in our recent past.
The meeting further called on the Government to note that collective agreements are sacrosanct and must be respected by the parties to the agreement.
ON THE SECURITY SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY:
The CWC reviewed the security situation in the country and the fight against extremist insurgency in the North East. While commending the progress made by the armed forces in the fight against Boko Haram, and the gallantry of our Military, the CWC expressed concern that the insurgents appears to have intensified its guerrilla activities against our armed forces in recent times.
To defeat the threat posed by this renewed forces of Boko Haram, the need for increased coordination between our land and air operations cannot be overstated. The recent fatal ambush on the NNPC staff and even the abduction of the University of Maiduguri
Staff appears to illustrate the seeming disconnect between the air and land forces, which should be quickly rectified.
ON THE CRISIS IN THE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME (NHIS):
The CWC reviewed the allegations and counter allegations of impropriety coming out of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The meeting recalled that the immediate cause of the crisis arose from the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on health on the activities of the NHIS. The CWC is of the opinion that the Honourable Minister of Health who constituted the intra-ministerial committee to probe the suspended Executive Secretary of the NHIS, and has himself been accused of peddling influence and sundry abuses in the operations of the scheme, be investigated. Natural justice demands that a neutral and transparent process should be put in place by the Government to thoroughly investigate these allegations and counter allegations.
OCTOBER 1 AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION
The CWC applauded the engagements of the NLC as they try to deepen democratic governance in the country. In this light, the NLC will use October 1, the Nigerian Independence Day, to engage in public discussions on major national issues geared towards sensitizing Nigerians and direct the attention of both government and citizens to the task of nation-building and inclusive development.
ON MOROCCO’S APPLICATION TO JOIN ECOWAS:
The CWC in session deliberated on the reported request of the Kingdom of Morocco to become the 16thmember of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The CWC found the application strange indeed. This is because Morocco is geographically not in West Africa.
In addition, CWC feels that on account of Morocco’s continuing defiance of the United Nations and the African Union, by continuing to illegally occupy Western Sahara, the Kingdom should not be allowed into ECOWAS. The CWC therefore resolved to mobilise the citizens of Nigeria and meet all the Nigerian stake holders to ensure that our National Assembly does not vote to support the admission of Morocco into ECOWAS.
ComradeAyubaWabba, mni Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson
President General Secretary