….elect Ajaero of NUEE, Achese of NUPENG as President, Deputy President
By Victor Ahiuma-Young
NO fewer than 25 industrial unions from Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and others without affiliation to either NLC or TUC, Saturday in Lagos announced the formation of a new Labour Centre; United Labour Congress, ULC.
According to the promoters of the new Labour federation described as a mega Labour Centre, is aimed at restoring hope to Nigerian workers, the oppressed, the victimized, the neglected and other relegated members of the society who have been left to wallow in hardship, sufferings and frustration.
While the new Centre unanimously elected the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero as its maiden President, the President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Comrade Igwe Achese, was elected its Deputy President.
Three Vice Presidents , Treasurer, Auditors, Financial Secretary among others were also elected to run the affairs of the Centre.
Leaders of the new Labour federation said their first major outing would be an onslaught against a leading airline in the country on Tuesday, December 20, for alleged unfair Labour practices including seven months unpaid salaries to workers some of who were affiliates of ULC.
Earlier before the formal announcement of the new Labour Centre, speaking at the ULC inaugural delegate conference in Lagos, Comrade Ajaero stated that the movement was not contesting with anybody or faction, but a Labour Centre of its own, insisting that “the issue of fraction is over. We are doing this because of the exigency of the moment. People work without salaries for months, people are being denied their rights at their work places.”
Among the affiliates of ULC included Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Nigeria Union of Mine Workers, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Employees, NUBIFIE, Nigeria Union of Rail Workers, NUR, National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees, NULAE, Association of Nigeria Aviation, Professionals, ANAP, and National Association Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE.
At the time of announcing the new labour movement, 18 unions were physically president.
In his inaugural speech ULC President, Ajaero promised to work with other progressive groups and organisations including unions to better the lots of workers and ordinary Nigerians, saying “we are ready to fight for the interest of workers in line with the constitution of Nigeria. We are calling on the National Assembly to review all policies that are not beneficiary to the workers. When people are idle, it herald different social vices. We promised to serve the people.”
Collaborating, Comrade Igwe Achese said, “we have waited for one and half years and I see that it is only truth that can send us free. It is sad that workers are being owed salaries. You ask where is the labour with the issues going on in the country and I said we have a responsiblity. We are here to celebrate the beginning of hope. How long are we going to wait and what is our responsibility as labour leaders.”