The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed its members to embarrass the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, as well as members of his family.
The labour union also declared that a national protest will hold in Abuja on Monday to express displeasure over the alleged use of thugs on its members who were on a peaceful demonstration.
The NLC had accused Ngige of sponsoring an attack on workers during a protest at his Abuja residence.
They had been protesting an alleged exclusion of a member of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) from the board.
The minister had initially refused to inaugurate the NSITF board following allegations of “monumental fraud”.
Addressing journalists after a central working committee meeting on Thursday, Ayuba Wabba, NLC president, said Ngige has no right to change the appointment made by the president on the basis that he never recommended Frank Kokori to head the NSITF board.
The minister said that the directive by the NLC to workers to attack him and his family members anywhere they were sighted was a criminal offence.
“He is not fit to be a minister. He has no reason to be called the minister of labour. He is a lord of his own and therefore instead of protecting us, he is against us. Therefore we have nothing to do with him under the circumstance,” he said.
“NLC has sent messages to all workers in the 163 countries who are members of the ITUC to embarrass the minister and members of his family anywhere they are seen, especially at airports where workers operate.
“The real reason he is opposed to Chief Kokori was that the veteran labour leader cannot be compromised. Since the minister has been talking about the issue of corruption in the NSITF, the government should put in place a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate the agency so as to unravel who the actual corrupt persons are.
“So, we are demanding that the Board, headed by Kokori, be inaugurated and all the thugs who attacked us in the full glare of security agents be investigated and prosecuted.
“The CWC decided to embark on a national protest on Monday, May 13, in Abuja against the brutalisation of its members during the peaceful protest.
“As minister of labour, he knows that there is a clear provision of the law on picketing, lockouts and even strike action and therefore for him to have instead of addressing the issues, descended so low to the extent of using thugs to attack workers who were on a peaceful conduct of the protest, is something that is less than desirable and is anti-workers.”
Ngige, in a statement issued by Mr Nwachukwu Obidewe, his Special Assistant on Media, in Abuja on Friday, said the directive by the NLC President that workers should protest him on Monday, May 13, 2019, was unlawful. He said:
“The calling out of workers on a flimsy and selfish excuse of non-inauguration of the board of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) with Comrade Frank Kokori as the Chairman did not constitute a trade dispute as contained in the Labour Act.
“The issue in question is political. It is about the exclusive right of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to make an appointment.
“This is clearly outside the purview of the Trade Union and Trade Disputes Act, hence imperative for workers to go about their normal businesses.
“ It is important to state here that every worker is supposed to put in eight hours of work per day for five days in a week in line with the ILO Convention.
“Therefore, using the office hours for such protest without the approval of the employers is unlawful, ‘’the minister said.
He added that the 40 hours a week which the Nigerian workers subscribed to should be used for productive ventures, especially in view of the new National Minimum Wage and the consequential financial adjustments.
Ngige said he was already taking necessary legal action regarding the labour leader’s threat.
He stressed that the minister remained the competent authority in all issues concerning labour in Nigeria.
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