There are indications that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) might sanction Nigeria over industrial infractions by Kaduna and Kogi states.The Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Peters Adeyemi, who stated this in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Abuja, explained that dragging Nigeria before the committee on the application of standards of the ILO over sack of about 40,000 by Kaduna State and proscribing unions by the Kogi State government could earn Nigeria sanction.
Going memory lane, Adeyemi reminded that the global labour watch body before had sanctioned Zimbabwe and other countries for flouting labour laws in their countries saying ILO is not a toothless bulldog that cannot bite when necessary. Adeyemi also faulted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige for criticising labour for washing the dirty linen of the country at an international arena.
His explanation: “No it is not just another talk shop at all. In time past, the conference had dealt with Zimbabwe by exploiting the ILO status book and getting the country to tow the line of sanity. It has also happened to other countries that ran contrary to the provisions of the ILO. What we requested for specifically was for the ILO to send a mission to Nigeria to confirm what we are reporting towards getting government to do the needful if not, appropriate sanctions can be applied.”
Adeyemi, who said the 2018 edition of the ILC was a successful one, explained that the NLC was compelled to dragged Nigeria to the ILO because Kaduna and Kogi states contravened Convention 86 and 97 of the ILO.His words: “I think the International Labour Conference of 2018 was a very successful conference. We had to drag the Federal Government of Nigeria before the committee on the application on standard on a number of issues that bordered on Convention 86 collective bargaining and 97, which is on freedom of association. NLC grouse had to do with the sack of about 40,000 workers by the Kaduna state government and its refusal to pay check-off dues.
The Kaduna State government was out to kill unions by withholding their check-off dues. Side by side is the development in Kogi state where the government has consistently refused to pay salaries for upwards of about 22 months. The state government was reportedly proscribing unions, which is clearly outside of the powers of the state governor. We had countries in Europe, Asia and Africa that supported our position.”He declared that reporting Nigeria to the ILO is not just a talk-shop but an action that could evoke sanctions from the international labour body.
Adeyemi was quick to observe that Ngige was only doing job as an employee of the Federal Government while labour is rendering its services to employees who hired the NLC chieftains to protect their collective interests.“There is nothing wrong in washing a dirty linen outside and even dry it there. For me, whatever the Minister said or he’s saying about our outing at the ILC, he is doing his job. I don’t have a problem with the Minister quarrelling with labour position because naturally as the Minister of Labour, he will not like the trade union to do a job for their members. Our job as trade union centre is to protect the jobs of our members while the job of the Minister is to protect the interest of the government. By saying that labour would not have gone to report government to ILO, the Minister agreed that there are issues.
So, the Minister is not saying that we are lying. He said why did we take the issues outside of the shores of Nigeria,” he stated. Meanwhile, the NASU Scribe has urged the Federal Government to offset the N8billion it pledged to pay the outstanding earned allowances of non-teaching staff of the universities to avert industrial crisis in the sector.
Adeyemi said 13 weeks after the Federal Government pledged to pay the arrears within four weeks, the non-teaching staffers are not quietly agitating in their various campuses for action.
He said: “Non-payment of about eight billion to the non-academic staff in the universities more than two months shows lack of seriousness of government and lack of commitment to education. We all know that politicians do not attach any importance to education. We will soon begin to see them promising heaven on earth in the next few weeks as we move towards the general elections. We were told when we suspended the strike action that government needed four to five weeks to get the money to pay the non-teaching staffers as additional part payment of the N23 billion that was released earlier. Now this is the 12th week and nothing has been done so far.”
The NASU Scribe said while the Federal Government is owing huge sum of money, the unions in the varsities accepted to take what government was ready to pay to allow peace reign in the tertiary institutions but regretted that government has once again reneged on the agreement reached this early this year.Out of around N23 billion that was released, Adeyemi hinted that about 80% of the money went to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).