Committee on resolution of Kaduna/NLC dispute submits report

By Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

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The Committee set up by the federal government to resolve the impasse between the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and the Kaduna State government has submitted its report to the government.

Receiving the interim report from the 10-man Bipartite Committee on Wednesday in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige said the dispute could have been worse if not for the intervention of the Federal Government.

The Minister described the submission of the report as a new dawn and a very important landmark in the history of the Federal Ministry of Labour since he came to the Ministry, noting that the issue of Kaduna State Government and NLC took national attention and needed to stop, otherwise “it would conflagrate and fester into the other States of the North West, which are contiguous to Kaduna State”.

 “Just like President Buhari said, Kaduna is the home of retired Generals, formers Ministers, Police Chiefs, retired Permanent Secretaries and who is who in old Northern Region, just like Enugu is for the old Eastern Region and Ibadan for the Western Region.

 “The President said we should do everything to arrest the situation in Kaduna. It has not been easy for me and the Permanent Secretary. We were on our phones talking to the NLC and Kaduna State Government. We are happy that it has been brought under control. It could have been worse”, the Minister said.

He said those who criticized them for not pre-empting the strike spoke from a standpoint of ignorance, adding that somebody having a doctoral degree in any discipline does not give him a standpoint to speak on labour matters.

Teachers’ sack
Dr Ngige recalled that there has been no love lost between the Kaduna State Government and NLC since teachers were sacked in the State sometime in 2017.

 “It is the same matter we are handling. It is crystallizing. In that one, teachers without requisite qualification were teaching children. We said no. We agreed on what should be done and it was done. I advised labour to tell their members to get the required qualification to ensure quality education and it was done. In this case, it was redundancy.”    

Ngige thanked members of the Committee for bringing up themselves to do the work, pointing out that it would have been made a bipartite committee of Kaduna State Government and NLC, but in this case, they decided to include the Permanent Secretary as the Chairman of the Committee.

 “I listened to the report presented by the Chairman. You kept to the original terms of reference you were given during the inauguration of the committee three weeks ago. That helps the work and the employees and their leaders seeing what has been done, will know that there is no victimization as alleged.

 “People who have disciplinary matters of fraud and misappropriation of funds, you have the right to disengage them under the omnibus of redundancy.

“If as Government, you are spending all your money on personnel, it does not make sense. That money is for everybody in the state. It is for social, educational and capital infrastructure. I am satisfied”, Ngige said.

Payment of benefits
Presenting the report, the Chairman of the Committee and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Peter Tarfa, said the Committee recommended that the disengaged staff of the Local Government, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Primary Health Care Board and all those not paid, should be paid appropriate benefits.

Tarfa said the Committee also recommended that the Staff of Kaduna State Development Company who disengaged between 2017 and 2020 should be paid their appropriate benefits.

He said “there is also need for consultation between the Government and Labour in line with the prescription of the Labour Act and other relevant Labour statutes.

 “There is need for mutual respect and confidence building between the social partners especially on issues of Collective Bargaining”.

He further stressed the need for breach in communication gap between Kaduna State Government and Labour Officials, which he said the committee observed was principally the reason for the strike.

On victimization, the Committee recommended that a letter should be issued, overriding all the queries answered by the nurses.

The Deputy President of NLC and Co-Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Comrade Najeem Usman Yasin, thanked the Minister and the Chairman of the Committee, wishing that all the recommendations would be implemented.

Similarly, the Secretary to the Government of Kaduna State, Balarabe Abbas Lawal thanked the Minister for his intervention, saying that the State government is open to finding a lasting peace in Kaduna State.

Recall that the national Headquarters of the Nigeria labour Congress in May this year led workers in Kaduna State on peaceful protest and strike over what it termed unfair labour practices.

Unfortunately, that protest turned violent, prompting the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to intervene.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu