By Funmi Komolafe, Victor Ahiuma-Young & James Ezema
LEADERS of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and its affiliate, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), yesterday threatened to call out members on a nationwide industrial action should the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, go ahead to appoint a sole administrator for the Lagos State Chapter of NURTW from September.
But the Minster yesterday denied planning to impose a sole administrator on the union, declaring that he only told the leadership of the union to conduct election into the council in accordance with the unionâ€™s constitution as their constitution has no provision for a care-taker committee.
The Minister in an exclusive chat with Vanguard last night, said he had no plan to interfere in the unionâ€™s affairs.
Already, leaders of NLC and members of NURTW in Lagos, staged a protest march to Alausa, seat of the Lagos government to register strong opposition and resolve to ground the nation to protest the ministerâ€™s moves.
The Minister had, weekend, given indication of his plan to appoint a sole administrator to the Lagos Council of the NURTW to oversee the council and conduct election over alleged partisanship contrary to the unionâ€™s constitution.
President of NURTW, Comrade Hamman Giddado, told Vanguard that the union had already warned the minister against the plan in a meeting with the leadership of the union, adding that should the minister appoint a sole administrator for Lagos council, the union would declare a nationwide strike to protest the action.
Also, at yesterdayâ€™s protest, leaders of the NLC and state members of NURTW rejected the ministerâ€™s moves and told Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State that NLC and the Labour movement would not accept another chairman.
The placards carrying members of NLC and NURTW were led by Assistant General General Secretary of NLC in-charge of organisation, Comrade Deja Yaqub; state Chairman of NLC, Comrade Michael Olukoya Alogba and incumbent Chairman of state NURTW, Comrade Rafiu Olorunwa.
Speaking, Comrade Alogba told Fashola that imposing a sole administrator on the NURTW state council was not only illegal but also portended great danger for the state, noting that before now the state would have been in chaos over the issue.
Presenting the letter of protest to Fashola, Mr Denja Yaqub, Head of organisation, NLC said that the NURTW does not want a new chairman because they were contented with Olorunwa.
In his response, Fashola commended the workers for the peaceful protest and assured that he would go through the letter and make a representation to President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua today.
He also said that appropriate recommendation would be made to the Federal Government on the issue because democracy would be meaningless if there was no peace in the nation.
He described transportation as bed rock of modern civilisation which not only provides a means of livelihood for people but also serves as a means of conveying them from one place to another, adding that the sector should not be toyed with.
The Minister while announcing the planned appointment of a sole administrator, through as statement by Mr. Samuel Olowookere emphasized the urgent need to bring to an end the protracted Intra-union trade dispute that had besieged the union especially in Lagos and Ondo States in the interest of Industrial peace and harmony.
According to the statement: â€œThe Minister has directed the current illegal occupant of the executive seat of the Union leadership in Ondo State to immediately vacate the office for the duly elected Officials to be re-installed with immediate effect and in accordance with the Union â€™s constitution.
The Care-Taker Committee currently overseeing the affairs of the Union in Lagos State should cease to exist in that capacity by September 1, 2009 and an Administrator who will be a neutral personality will be appointed to oversee the affairs of the Union .
The Administrator, according to the Honourable Minister, will immediately put in motion the mechanism for the conduct of a free and fair election of Union Officials for Lagos State branch in accordance with the constitution of the Union and will conclude his assignment not later than September 30, 2009 when he is expected to vacate the Office.