National President of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) , Comrade Benjamin Anthony speaks with MOSES JOHN on sundry labour issues . Excerpts.
Let me once again congratulate the Comrade President Ayuba Wabba and the whole officials, as well as comrades all over the country for the support giving to our counterparts in Kaduna State. Actually what is happening in Kaduna State is strange, and far from what the labour laws stipulated. The treatment by the governor of the state, Nasir El Rufai to Kaduna State workers is uncalled for , and that to us is wickedness. The law is straight and unambiguous , if you want to sack workers , section 20 of the act is very clear, you have to follow the procedures to ensure that you meet up with the law, and not to wake up and announce so so number of workers is sacked without anything in their hands . The law is clear and if it is redundancy, there is percentage to pay as well as their gratuities. But in the case of Kaduna it was not like that. Governor Nasir el Rufai didn’t pay a dime to the workers he sacked since 2017 . Many of them have died while some are on hospital beds due to the hardship they are going through. So we believe the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as international community should call the governor to order so he does not set a precedent that would be a problem in future. The truth is that we are going to resist him to the end that is if what the ministry of labour and employment asked him to do was not done. Another bitter thing is that this is a governor that does not obey the law would be talking about law because there are many court judgemenst on this issue that he has refused to obey. So is El-Rufai saying Nigeria or Kaduna State is a lawless state?
Update on CAC and workers
The update in Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is that the Registrar General (RG) of CAC is also behaving like the Kaduna State Governor, because he takes law into his hands and do whatever he likes. On labour issues, the law is clear , you cannot wake up and begin to dish out instruction that does not conform with the Civil Service rules, the condition of service of your organisation or any other law in Nigeria. This was what the RG of CAC is doing and when we resisted that he went and bring in an association . Also he sued the union but lost in court because the court struck out the matter but we understand he has been telling people he has won the case but also the union in turn sued him for anti-labour activities. Apart from that, we have also petitioned the Code of Conduct Tribunal over allegations of fraud against him in the organisation. You will remember that the former acting RG of CAC, Azinge was convicted by the same Code of Conduct Tribunal following the union’s petition against her over corrupt activities at the commission. So, for us as a union, the current RG did worse than Azinge so we are expecting the tribunal to do the needful. The RG has succeeded in driving away customers from CAC . We would continue to call on the Federal Government to do background checks before appointing people to sensitive positions in the country. We are strongly behind anyone who would unearth the dealings of the RG with a view to bringing him to book so the CAC can be brought back on track. This is because we are talking about ease of doing business in Nigeria. The World Bank rating recently said Nigeria has gone back on the ease of doing business and that can be linked to the coming of the current RG of CAC.
AUCPTER and SSASGOC
Well you are aware that SSASGOC is an association and so there is a clear distinction between a trade union and association. Clearly we have tried to see that we come together, because NLC called us and we said that we are not against SSASGOC but we don’t want them to allow themselves to be used against the workers of CAC by the management. Because what they are doing is to conive with the management to coerce workers to fill their forms , and we feel this is against the provisions of trade union act that allow workers to choose which union they want to belong. Section 12 of the 2005 trade union act is clear but the RG doesn’t want that because AUCPTRE has been there for more than ten years and we have been serving the workers faithfully. If the RG open up the place without coaxing workers according to provisions of trade union act, the workers knows who can serve them. So up till now we are awaiting feed back from SSASGOC but we know sooner than later the result would be out.
Opposing privatisation of water
On the privatisation of water, the union has been resisting privatisation of water for 13 years now , and the people of Lagos are with us on this agitation. As you know, Lagos has the financial strength to put all the water works back to use , so we will not allow any state to bring the international finance corporation programmes to implement here for people to suffer so we are on it. We have not backed out, we are monitoring what they are doing. There is a committee put in place by the governor to see how to resuscitate the water works and give the public water. Let me tell you, in some part of FCT, we are paying for water and people are happy paying since they are seeing water 24 hours . So if Lagos state government can also do same, people of Lagos would pay for water if such is available. But taking this water and give to their cohorts in the name of privatisation to suffer the people, would never be tolerated. This is because everyone needs water. On the water bill sponsored by the Minister of Water Resources, we are also monitoring that because we have it on good authority that those sponsoring that bill are also foreigners , and it is not that we don’t have control over what God has given us. The provision of water is one of the social amenities, and it is the sole responsibility of Goverment , you can’t shy away from your responsibility and punish the people as result of that . So we will continue to resist any plann to hand over water to your friends so the people can suffer.