- Management to meet NLC, TUC Thursday
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have commenced a three-day picketing and protest at the headquarters of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Office at Maitama, Abuja over what they described as the refusal of the management to allow its employees to unionize.
The workers had threatened to commence picketing of the headquarters of the CAC beginning from Wednesday.
Just as the picketing was in progress, the management of CAC appealed to the workers to suspend it, pledging to meet with the leadership of the NLC and TUC on Thursday to thrash their grievances.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who addressed the protesting workers and urged them to suspend the protest, assured them that the CAC management has reached out to Labour to come for a meeting on Thursday.
The protest, which started as early as 8:00am Wednesday, saw the premises of the commission blocked, preventing workers from gaining entry into the building.
Addressing the protesters at the premises of the organization, the NLC President, Wabba, frowned on the recalcitrant attitude of the Chief Executive Officer of the commission who, he said refused to acknowledge or respond to any of the six letters sent to him from last year till now over the suppression of rights of workers of the commission.
Wabba, who accused the management of the commission of flagrant violation of workers’ rights under the cover of Covid-19 pandemic policy implementation, also said many married women and union officials who demanded the payment of their promotion arrears or voiced resistance to the inhuman treatment by the management were been transferred illegally to punish them.
Wabba also alleged that hired thugs were deployed by the management to unleash violence on peaceful protesters and vowed that the ILO procedures in demanding for the rights of workers would be followed until the management reverses its stance on the issues.
He warned the CAC management to desist from impunity, especially hiring of thugs to attack workers on peaceful protest to demand for their rights and come into a roundtable for a harmonious resolution of the dispute.
Some of the placards displayed by the protesting workers read: “Unionism is our right: organised, join the union”, Employers, respect workers’ right to unionize” and “We are workers and not slaves”.
The Director, Public Affairs, CAC, Duke Ukaga, while responding, said the allegation that the management has refused to allow them unionize freely and are being compelled to join a particular labour union is not true.
He said the commission, being a very law abiding organisation, is obeying the rules of the National Industrial Court, which gave a ruling in December 2019 and May 2020 stating categorically that the union which most of the staff had joined Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPTRE) was a junior staff union and not applicable to senior staff.
“This is in line with the Trade Union Act 2004 and 2005. The Commission is only obeying the court judgment and till date, there has been no injunction or stay of execution order. So for them to say that we are forcing them to join the union is manifestly wrong.
“As a result, the commission gave the staff the option of choosing which union to join. For the junior staff, they went for AUPTRE, while the senior staff freely indicated to join Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporation and Government-Owned Companies (SSASCGOC). The staff have no grudge with the management,” he said.
On the issue of punitive transfers, he said: “There is a standing rule in the public service about spouses working in the same department and office. As part of the reorganisation of the organisation, the management might in their wisdom post any staff anywhere.
“Even in their letters of appointment, it’s stated clearly that their appointment is at the pleasure of the commission and they may be sent to work in any of the branches. So, for one to say that there have been unjustly sent somewhere, it’s not true.”
Regarding the issue of embezzlement, Ukaga denied the claim saying: “Though I’m not into fumigation, we have a standard for fumigation considering the type and size of the building. I can assure you that our management cannot embezzle any government money.”