NLC Condemns Military Takeover of PHCN Hqtrs,Threatens Industrial Action



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Nigerian Labour Congress ,NLC has just ended its National Executive Council NEC meeting in Benin,Edo state capital.The communiqué at the end of the meeting revealed that the NLC looked into several issues namely : Security situation in the Country; Budget face-off between the National Assembly and the Executive;Corruption; Crude Oil Theft;Legislative Amendments ;Murder of Olaitan Oyerinde; Situation in the Power Sector; Trial of Fuel Subsidy Suspects;The Nigeria Railway Corporation;Centenary Celebration; and Leadership of the Congress.

On the ongoing crisis rocking the power sector , the communiqué said “NEC condemns in its entirety the military takeover of the corporate headquarters of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), over an industrial relations issue.NEC calls on the federal government to within the next one week, withdraw the army from PHCN installations and commence negotiations with the unions on outstanding labour issues.  Congress reiterates its earlier position that the New Pension Act did not abolish gratuity and that the 25 percent contributions by the workers should be paid up to date.   NEC holds the view that there cannot be retroactive contribution, hence if the PHCN management intends to migrate to the new pension policy, they should go into an agreement with the unions and agree on the commencement date to start the contribution.
Accordingly, NEC considers the current gun-point deductions directed by the ministry of power as illegal as the new Pension Act 2004 provides for the worker to open an account with a PFA of choice and submit same to their employer for remittance.NEC warns that if by the end of one week, government and management of PHCN refuse to commence negotiations with the unions, Congress and its allies may be forced to commence a nationwide industrial action in support of the unions.  To prosecute this action, NEC directs that strike committees be set up immediately across the country.

“NEC directs the unions in the power sector to commence actions to compel the management of PHCN and government to implement agreements as contained in their collective agreements.
NEC condemns the recent attack on the NUEE National Secretariat and calls on the law enforcement agencies to commence the prosecution of the persons arrested in connection with this act.NEC condemns the style and manner of intervention in the PHCN imbroglio by the Honourable Minister of Labour.  His bye-passing of the unions and attempting to deal directly with workers, which appears to be a regular occurrence, portrays him as a minister always seeking to take the side of employers, instead of the expected role of arbiter. NEC believes that the Minister of Labour for effective performance, ought to enjoy the confidence of the social partners. NEC warns that if the Minister carries on like this, Congress will be compelled to boycott all government activities involving him.NEC also warns that any attempt to disregard the clear provisions of the law by any government functionary, no matter how highly placed, will be massively resisted in the best traditions of trade unionism.

The communiqué also revealed NLC’s position on the Murder of Olaitan Oyerinde. “NEC commends the effort of the police and other security agencies for their prompt investigation of the murder of its Deputy General Secretary, Mr. Olaitan Oyerinde seconded to the Governor of Edo State as Private Principal Secretary but expresses concern at the conflicting reports from the Police and the Directorate of State Security Service (SSS) on who his murderers are.
NEC holds the view that these conflicting reports further lend credence to the long-held view that Olaitan was a victim of cold political murder and that those behind his murder are shielding his killers.NEC is alarmed that two national security agencies would work at across purpose and without coordination in carrying out investigations of a crime of this magnitude.
This situation raises doubts in the minds of most discerning Nigerians as to the motive of the investigations. Are the grounds being laid for confusion with a view to preventing the apprehension and successful prosecution of the actual perpetrators?NEC calls on Mr. President and the National Assembly to get to the roots of this seeming game of the security agencies and have this crime resolved urgently to prevent a complete loss of faith in them by Nigerians.  Such a loss of faith has the potential of worsening the security situation in the country.

Read the full text of the  communiqué below:

NLC COMUNIQUE AT THE BENIN NEC

THE COMMUNIQUE OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC) AT THE END OF ITS NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) MEETING IN BENIN CITY, EDO STATE ON AUGUST 8, 2012
The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Congress met at the Royal Marble Hotel, Benin City, on Wednesday 8th August, 2012, to discuss matters of national interest including the following:
1.    Security situation in the Country;
2.    Budget face-off between the National Assembly and the Executive;
3.    Corruption;
4.    Crude Oil Theft;
5.    Legislative Amendments;
6.    Murder of Olaitan Oyerinde;
7.    Situation in the Power Sector;
8.    Trial of Fuel Subsidy Suspects;
9.    The Nigeria Railway Corporation;
10. Centenary Celebration;
11. Leadership of the Congress.
After an exhaustive deliberation, NEC resolves as follows:
1.   Security Situation
NEC notes that in spite of the measures taken by the government, the security situation in the country continues to deteriorate.  Kidnappings, assassinations, resurgence of armed robberies, bombings, communal and sectarian violence have led to painful loss of lives, massive displacements, injurious interruption of productive activities with prospect of acute food shortages, destruction of properties (in excess of billions of Naira) and capital flight.
NEC believes that government’s continuous display of incapacity to confront these problems has eroded the confidence of the citizenry in their government to protect them, leading to general panic in the land with not a few questioning the continued existence of Nigeria as one country.  Accordingly, NEC calls not only on the government to do more to secure the lives and properties of its citizens in fulfillment of its social contract, but also to quickly find solutions to end this spate of alarming insecurity.
Convinced that Nigeria’s existence as one indivisible entity is inviolable, irrevocable and inalienable, the Nigeria Labour Congress, as part of its contribution to ensuring the continued peaceful co-existence of our people, has decided to organize in the 2nd week of September in Abuja, a peace rally and summit entitled, “Labour for Unity, Peace and Good Governance.
2.   Budget Face-off
NEC observes that the face-off between the National Assembly and the Executive on the implementation/ non-implementation of the budget as healthy for the operation of democracy as it represents checks and balances in the system.
NEC urges the National Assembly (NASS) to continue to perform its functions (law-making, oversight etc.) as prescribed by the constitution but advises that this not be tainted by partisan politics, especially when national interest is at stake. It urges state houses of assembly to redeem their honour by resisting the lure to be governors’ rubber stamps, and adds that a compromised state house of assembly defeats not only the principle of separation of powers but betrays the electorate.
Convinced that a performing budget is a necessity for growing the economy, NEC calls on the government to overhaul the entire budget process as well as criminalise willful budget offences through the amendment of the Appropriation Act.
It urges its affiliates and civil society allies to devise and put in place, budget-tracking mechanisms to monitor budgets.
3.   Corruption
NEC condemns the rising incidence of corruption in government and government’s ambivalence towards it and warns that this ambivalence is capable of destroying the nation.
Accordingly, it urges the government to demonstrate the necessary will and skill to combat corruption in all its ramifications, especially the cases of Halliburton, Siemens, Pension Fund, Oil Subsidy Fund, Mahlabo Oil etc.
NEC is similarly worried by the inability of the judiciary to speedily dispense justice in high profile corruption cases. Citing the cases of James Ibori and Erastus Akingbola who were convicted in the UK with the same set of evidence that Nigerian courts could not secure conviction, NEC advises the judiciary not to sacrifice justice on the altar of technicalities.
4.   Crude Oil Theft
NEC acknowledges that illicit activities in the form of occasional illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalisation have been familiar features of oil production in the Niger-Delta but wishes to reiterate that the same cannot be said to be the situation at the moment as nearly 50 per cent of Nigeria’s crude is stolen by the high and the mighty.
NEC is outraged by this heinous crime and calls on Mr. President to speedily take the necessary action(s) to stop this show of-shame.
NEC warns that in the event Mr. President fails to act within a reasonable time, it will take all the steps necessary, including mobilizing its members to stop oil production.
5.   Amendments
NEC notes with dismay, the attempts by the government to remove the minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list.
NEC advises government not to embark on this unhelpful journey.
The logic of a national minimum wage is informed by the need to ensure a minimum floor which is nationally guaranteed to avoid or minimize the incidence of the working poor.
It wishes to remind elected government functionaries, especially governors and Mr. President, of their electioneering promises to the electorate, especially workers, to whom they pledged to improve the quality of their lives through payment of improved wages.
NEC holds the view that corruption, and not workers’ salaries is the drain on the nation’s resources.
NEC notes with concern the gale of de-membership of Congress from institutions and organizations in which it hitherto was a member. Citing the case of the National Industrial Court (NIC) among others, including the proposed de-listing of NLC/TUC from the board of the PPPRA, NEC wonders what government intends to achieve by this act of belligerence.
Vowing to fight back, NEC has given its approval to the Congress to mobilize all the necessary resources to reclaim its membership of the NIC.
6.    Murder of Olaitan Oyerinde
NEC commends the effort of the police and other security agencies for their prompt investigation of the murder of its Deputy General Secretary, Mr. Olaitan Oyerinde seconded to the Governor of Edo State as Private Principal Secretary but expresses concern at the conflicting reports from the Police and the Directorate of State Security Service (SSS) on who his murderers are.
NEC holds the view that these conflicting reports further lend credence to the long-held view that Olaitan was a victim of cold political murder and that those behind his murder are shielding his killers.

NEC is alarmed that two national security agencies would work at across purpose and without coordination in carrying out investigations of a crime of this magnitude.

This situation raises doubts in the minds of most discerning Nigerians as to the motive of the investigations. Are the grounds being laid for confusion with a view to preventing the apprehension and successful prosecution of the actual perpetrators?

NEC calls on Mr. President and the National Assembly to get to the roots of this seeming game of the security agencies and have this crime resolved urgently to prevent a complete loss of faith in them by Nigerians.  Such a loss of faith has the potential of worsening the security situation in the country.

7.   Situation in the Power Sector
NEC condemns in its entirety the military takeover of the corporate headquarters of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), over an industrial relations issue.
NEC calls on the federal government to within the next one week, withdraw the army from PHCN installations and commence negotiations with the unions on outstanding labour issues.
Congress reiterates its earlier position that the New Pension Act did not abolish gratuity and that the 25 percent contributions by the workers should be paid up to date.
NEC holds the view that there cannot be retroactive contribution, hence if the PHCN management intends to migrate to the new pension policy, they should go into an agreement with the unions and agree on the commencement date to start the contribution.
Accordingly, NEC considers the current gun-point deductions directed by the ministry of power as illegal as the new Pension Act 2004 provides for the worker to open an account with a PFA of choice and submit same to their employer for remittance.
NEC warns that if by the end of one week, government and management of PHCN refuse to commence negotiations with the unions, Congress and its allies may be forced to commence a nationwide industrial action in support of the unions.  To prosecute this action, NEC directs that strike committees be set up immediately across the country.
NEC directs the unions in the power sector to commence actions to compel the management of PHCN and government to implement agreements as contained in their collective agreements.
NEC condemns the recent attack on the NUEE National Secretariat and calls on the law enforcement agencies to commence the prosecution of the persons arrested in connection with this act.
NEC condemns the style and manner of intervention in the PHCN imbroglio by the Honourable Minister of Labour.  His bye-passing of the unions and attempting to deal directly with workers, which appears to be a regular occurrence, portrays him as a minister always seeking to take the side of employers, instead of the expected role of arbiter.
NEC believes that the Minister of Labour for effective performance, ought to enjoy the confidence of the social partners.
NEC warns that if the Minister carries on like this, Congress will be compelled to boycott all government activities involving him.
NEC also warns that any attempt to disregard the clear provisions of the law by any government functionary, no matter how highly placed, will be massively resisted in the best traditions of trade unionism.
8.   Trial of Fuel Subsidy Suspects
NEC commends the government for finally bowing to public pressure to commence the trial of the fuel subsidy suspects but condemns the selective trial of the suspects as most of those arraigned before the court are people with least sums of money illegally paid to them from the subsidy funds.
NEC is outraged by government’s attempt to shield the main culprits most of whom are believed to be friends or funders of the campaigns of people in corridors of power.
NEC calls for diligent and robust prosecution of all the accused and warns against the frustration of the trial process in any way or form, as given the outrage that greeted the discovery of these crimes, anything to the contrary could attract grave consequences.
NEC holds the view that with the facts of the subsidy fund in the open, government should commence the process of reviewing downward the price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
9.   The Nigeria Railway Corporation
NEC urges the management of Nigeria Railway Corporation and the federal government to in line with the provisions of the monetization policy of the Federal Government, give the staff of the corporation the first right of refusal in respect of the sale of the quarters of the corporation.
NEC resolves to give all the necessary support to the staff of the corporation in their struggle to acquire these quarters and warns that it will resist any action to thwart this objective.
10.    Centenary Celebration
NEC resolves to mark the 100th year anniversary of trade unionism in Nigeria with a series of activities in conjunction with the Nigeria Civil Service Union.
NEC pays tribute to the pioneer role of the Nigeria Civil Service Union which came into being in August 1912 and acknowledges the historical and contemporary contributions of its leadership.
11.    Leadership of the Congress
NEC re-affirms its total and unalloyed confidence in the national leadership of the Congress.
Abdulwahed I. Omar                                                           Chris Uyot
President                                                                Ag General Secretary

 


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