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Nurses, Others Saved As Abuja Agreement Tells El-Rufai To Retrace All Steps Taken On Workers’ Sack

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige

BEVERLY HILLS, May 21, (THEWILL) – Kaduna’s Governor Nasir El-Rufai has been forced to backtrack on his earlier sacking of nurses and lecturers who joined this week’s strike that paralysed his state.

A tripartite meeting that his emissaries held with leaders of Labour, led by President of the National Labour Congress (NLC) and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, agreed on several resolutions, including that no worker would face victimisation for his role in the now suspended strike action.

The sitting at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in Abuja also hammered it home that in sacking the hundreds of workers whose plight provoked the protest, the Kaduna State Government had failed to follow due process and the “principle of redundancy,” as stipulated in Section 20 of the Labour Act.

It therefore advised the Governor to return to the drawing board and carry Labour along.

On its own part, NLC was told to hold its strike fire and return to the negotiating table with the state.

The terms of the Abuja agreement, mediated by the ministry, bore the signatures of: Bariatu Yusuf Mohammed Head of Service, Kaduna State; Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President NLC; Ja’afaru Ibrahim Sani, Commissioner of Local Government Kaduna State, Comrade Najeem Usman, Deputy President NLC; Mrs Omoabie U. Akpan Director Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations; and Muoneke Aloy Director Finance and Accounts, representing the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour.

In full, it said: “Following the three days industrial action embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the 17th of May, 2021 in Kaduna State, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment apprehended the industrial dispute by holding an emergency conciliation meeting between the Kaduna State Government (KDSG) and NLC to deliberate on the following contentious issues as alleged by the NLC.

“Retrenchment of workers by the Kaduna State Government; Compulsory Retirement of workers on Grade Level 14 and above; Compulsory Retirement of workers who have attained the age of 50 years irrespective of their Grade Levels; Reduction of the staff strength of Local Government to 50 in each of the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs); and Casualization of workers on Grade Level 1-6.

“After an exhaustive deliberation of all the issues above at the meeting, the officials of Kaduna State Government debunked all the five issues listed above and ascribed them to political opponents of the State Government.

“They also said they were only trying to implement the Kaduna State Government Public Service Revitalization and Renewal Programme approved by the State Executive Council since 2016.

“The NLC also explained their position that they got into the dispute following reports by their Kaduna State affiliate Unions and Negotiating Councils.”

“The meeting agreed that all the listed issues fall within the ambit of redundancy therefore, it was resolved that the principle of redundancy as stated in section 20 of Labour Act, Cap L 1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) should apply.

“The meeting also recognized that the current impasse was caused by communication gap between the State Government and NLC occasioned by both the local chapter and even the Kaduna State Government Officials.

“In view of the foregoing, the meeting resolved to constitute a 10-man Bi-partite Committee comprising six representatives of State Government and three officials of the NLC to engage further with the objective of reverting with a work plan on how to integrate the provision of section 20 of the Labour Act CAP L1 LFN 2004 to resolve the impasse between the State Government and the NLC.

“The meeting also resolved that the Committee should have as Chairman, the Head of Service of the Kaduna State Government and assisted by a Deputy National President of the NLC. The Committee is expected to revert with the work plan for peaceful resolution of all issues in contention to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment by Tuesday 25th May, 2021.

“The work plan is to itemize the structure and sub-structure in the State and Local Government of their activities, time of commencement and envisaged final tenure of the Committee or make recommendations if in its wisdom it thinks the Committee should be a Permanent Standing Committee.

“It was agreed that there shall be no further industrial action on these issues and no worker shall be victimized on account of his or her participation in the industrial action.”

E-Rufai had made a fiat announcement that sacked all nurses from Level 13 downwards of those who took part in the aborted five-day warning strike.

He had also ordered a list to be compiled for the same purpose at the state-owned university.