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Labour plans protest over polls, pay

Posted by From Collins Olayinka, Abuja on 2007/05/14 | Views: 612 |

Labour plans protest over polls, pay


TRADE unions under the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which have been off the streets on protest, have issued a notice of intention to return to the trenches against the Federal Government.

TRADE unions under the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which have been off the streets on protest, have issued a notice of intention to return to the trenches against the Federal Government.

The renewed face-off is being planned to be effected before the expiration of the tenure of the out-going Olusegun Obasanjo administration, which has only 15 days left.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of NLC, at an emergency meeting in Abuja at the weekend, declared that Nigerians would be directed to embark on a two-day sit-at-home protest before the May 29 handover.

Their grouse: The conduct of the recent general elections which saw the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) being declared winner in controversial circumstances.

The labour leaders are also unhappy with the failure of the Obasanjo administration to grant federal workers a 15 per cent pay rise, the planned sale of the Port Harcourt and the Kaduna refineries as well as the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

In a press statement issued after the meeting, the Labour leaders gave the government a seven-day ultimatum to pay the proposed new wage, which some state governments have already approved for their workers.

The statement, which was jointly signed by NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar and General Secretary, John Odah, the Labour leaders said: "The NEC deliberated on the 15 per cent salary increase in workers' wages and the decision by the Presidency to deny public servants their rights. It directed the Congress to issue government a seven-day ultimatum to commence payment of the salary increase with arrears from January 2007. NEC directed the congress to begin the mobilisation of workers for a series of industrial actions if government fails to implement the pay increase. Also, the NEC commended state governments that have implemented the 15 per cent salary increase and directs state councils where implementation has not been carried out, to ensure immediate compliance."

Similarly, NLC chided government for showing reluctance in implementing the monetisation arrears for workers in the parastatals and other government agencies. The NEC-In-Session therefore demanded immediate payment to denied employees.

On the 2007 general elections, the NEC-in-Session noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deliberately sabotaged the elections through illegal disqualification of eligible candidates, poor organisation and the subversion of the electoral process, including the manipulation of the collation of election results.

They also alleged that thugs, the Police, members of the Armed Forces and the security services were used to perpetuate violence in order to intimidate opposition candidates into submission and the electorate, which ultimately subverted the will of the people.

The unionists further stressed that the polls were characterised in many cases and places by severe shortage of ballot materials, under-age voting, declaration of results even in places where elections did not hold, ballot box snatching as well as stuffing and intimidation of voters.

As a response to the flawed elections, the NLC said that it is currently consulting with its allies with a view to organising a mass protest to drive home the rejection of the polls by the organisation in particular, and Nigerians as a whole.

The other resolutions of the NEC-in-Session include:


all mass actions and legitimate steps to ensure justice in the elections should be backed by workers;

the NLC's consultations with broad-based institutions including faith-based organisations and civil society groups should be intensified in order to find a political solution to the impending national crises;

the on-going discussions with Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) on specific actions to protest the rigged elections and ensure the enthronement of the peoples' mandate should be intensified;

the judiciary is encouraged to speedily dispose off electoral cases and ensure that at every level, the will of the people is upheld;

INEC has been so compromised that its chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu and its major officers should be removed immediately and prosecuted, and

those who in the name of a "do-or-die" election perpetuated violence, which led to the death of over 200 Nigerians, should be prosecuted;

the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led government must exit not later than Tuesday 29th May, 2007.
As an opening glee to the slated series of protests, the NEC-in-Session resolved that there would, in the first instance, be a two-day sit-at-home mass protest before May 29. Although it did not give the take-off date for the order, the NLC commended the Nigerians for the steadfastness, doggedness and courage they exhibited during and after the elections and restates its commitment to democratic values.

Labour also called on workers at the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries, as well as those of PHCN to resist any attempt to sell off their organisations before the May 29.

It accused the government of planning a concessioning and break up of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) without any enabling law.

The central labour body also faulted the planned mass sack of workers in the public service, Police, tertiary institutions of learning and other public agencies. It said: "Workers in their tens of thousands have been mindlessly thrown into the ocean of mass unemployment."

The NEC called for a halt to this and directed unions and workers in the public sector to resist any further sack. "Also, all those sacked should be paid their full entitlement," it said.

By the end of 2006, according to the NLC, workers were excessively taxed and there was therefore the need to significantly reduce the tax burden.

Accusing the government of insensitivity to the excruciating pains through mounting taxes, the Labour said that the government had in a surprise move, "increased the high taxes three fold."

It therefore called on the government to immediately reverse the upward movement to the pre-2006 levels.


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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.