The strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliates unions yesterday grounded commercial and social activities in Kaduna State, especially the metropolis.
Among sectors affected were flight services to and from Kaduna, the popular Kaduna – Abuja train services, banks and many government offices. Already, the whole state has been in darkness since Saturday night when the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) cut off the power supply to the state in preparation for the strike.
Business premises were deserted earlier in the morning, but some opened after the workers, led by the National President of NLC, ended their protest in some parts of the state capital.
The workers gathered as early as 7 a.m. at their secretariat along the Golf Course Road, off Independence Way where they were addressed by Wabba and other labour leaders.
Thereafter they moved in their numbers, bearing placards with different inscriptions and protested from their office to the Kaduna State secretariat, before moving to the State House of Assembly where the gate was also under lock and key.
In reaction to the protest and strike however, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, on his Facebook page, said, the protest will not alter the conditions that brought about the rightsizing of staff, adding that they will not be swayed by what it called the campaign of economic and social sabotage.
He wrote: “KDSG affirms that the conditions that compel it to right size are not altered by the NLC’s campaign of economic and social sabotage.
“The NLC showed in 2017 that it has no interest in public welfare, going violent over 21,780 failed teachers who KDSG replaced with 25,000.” But addressing workers during the protest, Wabba said many people have been sacked and labour will not accept that.
“In SUBEB, 4000 workers were sacked, we are also aware that 11,000 have been penciled down for sack. He (el- Rufai) claimed he has not riveted to the 18,000 naira minimum wage, but we are aware that out of the 31,000 workers in the state, he has not paid 20 000 of them April salary.
“In the local government area, those he paid few days ago, he paid N18,000. Those are the facts and the people affected are here to confirm that.
Also, the students are here, he is throwing their parents out of job, he increased the school fees by 1000 percent. I also have it on good authority that 70 percent of the students at the Kaduna State University are indigenes of Kaduna State; they are also children of workers, children of pensioners, children of petty traders. Yet, they are out of school because they cannot afford the school fees. ”
He also said, “we have on record that the 21000 thousand teachers that were sacked two years ago have not been paid, If he says he has paid them, tomorrow I will ask them to bring their letters.
“He also claimed that he invited NLC to a meeting and we declined. It is false. We were never invited. In fact, it was late last night when someone called that he wanted us to hold a meeting, it was later he called that the meeting will no longer be held. I recorded the conversation and I can play it for you.”
According to him: “Petroleum supplies have been stopped, the airport is not working, banks are closed, yet we have somebody that is a tyrant that would say he is fighting.
Let me tell you that the situation in Kaduna cannot change except we are able to take our destiny into our own hands and that is why we are here. “We cannot as Nigerians be deceived.
El-Rufai never promised when he was campaigning that he was going to sack workers, he never said he was going to increase school fees, he never promised he was going to demolish traders’ shops, he never said he was going to sell everything that belongs to the public.”
The NLC president insisted that “we are here to tell him that there is labour law in Nigeria, which says that, before you declare redundancy, the labour union must be consulted.
The law says, ‘labour shall be consulted’. This is a clear provision. But the governor claimed to have consulted the labour, the labour leaders are here and they said it is a lie.