By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The organised labour has described the recent screening of workers by the Kaduna State Government as a fraud, alleging that those declared successful in the exercise by the government were dead, retired teachers and security guards.
The organised labour in a media briefing on Friday in Abuja also claimed that the planned sack of about 30,000 workers of the state employ will cause unprecedented poverty and hunger in the state.
National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba told journalists that the ultimate intention of the Kaduna State government was the massive reduction of the state’s workforce.
According to him, the target was the entire civil service, local government, ministries, departments and agencies, adding that the “The so called competency test was conducted without the relevant professional bodies regulating the teaching profession.”
He further stated that the competency test was done by a government with a prejudiced mind and intent.
The NLC President’s text with the title, “Mass sack of workers in Kaduna State”, noted that the NLC and its affiliates had on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 led a protest against “the obnoxious plan” of the Kaduna State Government to sack workers en masse.
It stated, “The State Government has earmarked about 30, 000 workers to be laid off, consisting of twenty one thousand, seven hundred and eighty (21, 780) teachers already penned down to be sacked under the pretext that they failed a competency test while five thousand (5, 000) local government workers are to be sacked under the Local Government Councils Restructuring Order 2017 and eight thousand (8, 000) more workers in ministries, departments and agencies are to be sacked for sundry but unjustifiable reasons.
“The teachers’ case is a disguise that must not be treated separately as the ultimate plan is to execute a wholesome mass sack.
“Wednesday’s protest was to express our collective opposition to the anti-workers policies of Governor Nasir El – Rufai’s Government in Kaduna State that are obviously directed at not just sacking workers en masse but deepening poverty and deprivations as well as circumscribing the fundamental rights of the people, particularly workers in the state.
“What surprises us is his penchant for falsehood and fraudulent claims in his quest to impose hardships on the people, especially workers.
“For instance, his government’s claim that the competency test conducted on teachers in the state was transparent is not only false but shrouded in arrant fraud as we have found out that some of those claimed to have passed the test were dead teachers as well as retired teachers who left service two years ago.
“Also included were school guards who were never engaged in teaching service.
“The competency test was simply a sham as well as a pre-meditated action to reduce the workforce.
We must make it clear to the public that the ultimate intention of the Kaduna State government is the massive reduction of the state’s workforce.
“The target is the entire civil service, local government, ministries, departments and agencies.”
Wabba claimed that those who were qualified to handle the competency test were not the people that conducted the exercise.
He said, “The so called competency test was conducted without the relevant professional bodies regulating the teaching profession. But more especially, it was done by a government with a prejudicial mind and intent.
“The Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria and the National Teachers Institute were not involved in the process. The unions, particularly the Nigeria Union of Teachers and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees were left out because the motives were clearly not about testing for quality but a disguise to throw people out of employment.
“The principles of collective bargaining in labour relations as enshrined in our national labour laws and conventions of the International Labour Organisation were not followed.
“The truth is that the State government is planning to sack about 5, 000 local government workers and 8, 000 others from the ministries, departments and agencies.
“The competency test on teachers was simply a smokescreen to cover up the ultimate intentions of the state government who as we have been credibly informed, already planned to sack about 30, 000 workers under different guises.
“The social consequences of adding 30,000 workers and their families to the number of unemployed people in Kaduna State alone can better be imagined, at a period crime rate is growing at a frightening speed.
“While it is not true that protesting workers caused damage to the property of the State House of Assembly, we wish to make it clear that we are aware that soon after workers left the premises of the State House of Assembly, allegedly sponsored thugs and hoodlums were sent there by the State government to cause damage to the property with the intention to blackmail workers as unruly people.
“We want to state categorically that workers are decent and law-abiding citizens fully guided by principles of peaceful protest. Our record of peaceful protests is unimpeachable and could be attested to by organisations that monitor our protests. Workers stand to gain nothing by destroying public property. And we did not destroy any in Kaduna.
“However, if the government of Kaduna State wishes to profiteer from our peaceful and justifiable protest, it is free to do so but not at our expense.”
He said that the protest by workers to the State House of Assembly was in the full glare of journalists from nearly all the media houses in Nigeria while security agencies were at hand to ensure law and order.
“We are not surprised by the media propaganda launched by Mr Adamu Mansur, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology since he is acting as an agent of the government.
“His claims of violence and vandalization by us are clearly staged and managed by the government. Our protest was peaceful, as can be attested to by both the print and electronic media, as well as security operatives who monitored the protest.
“We assure all workers in the employment of the Kaduna State Government of our full resolve and commitment to continue to support them against any infringement on their rights as we will mobilise fully against any attempt to implement the intention to sack any worker without following due process.”