LABOUR OPPOSES BILL ON INDUSTRIAL STRIKES
'THOSE who are sponsoring this Bill both the ones on the floor of the Senate and the ones behind the mask have shown total disdain for Nigerians.'
These were the words of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and that of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Abuja yesterday as both Labour bodies reacted angrily to the bill that seeks to compel members of unions to vote before going on industrial action.
The President of the NLC, Abdulwahed Omar who read the joint statement went memory lane by informing Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the sponsor of the bill, that previous attempts at stifling opposing voices had never succeeded in the long run.
He said that Labour would engage the leadership of the National Assembly in an effort to ensure the bill dies a natural death but added that Labour would also do everything possible to resist the onslaught.
While describing the bill as nonsensical, Labour explained that it indeed runs its operation on democratic ideals as symbolised in its various organs which are responsible for taking decisions for the good of its members.
The two Labour bodies have four bodies that take decisions on behalf of all the members. These are: National Administrative Council (NAC) that comprises the elected officials; Central Working Committee (CWC) that is made of Presidents and General Secretaries of the affiliate unions; the National Executive Council (NEC) which all the principal officers of the various state councils including Abuja are members. The highest decision-making organ of the two bodies is the National Delegates Conference that vote for officers, take all other important decisions and delegate power to other layers of authorities.
Labour insisted that a law that will compel all members to gather in one venue to vote to decide if strike goes on or not will complicate its operations and make decision-making processes cumbersome.
While the law as envisaged by Lokpobiri will compel the congregation of more than 30,000 members to converge on one venue to 'vote' in order to go on strike will effectively render some of the organs jobless; it will also nullify the powers of the Delegates Conference to delegate authorities to other organs to take decisions on its behalf.
Labour wondered why the National Assembly is not bothered by the challenges confronting Nigeria as a nation and join in the efforts at transforming the country but chose to stoop so low to be used as an instrument for silencing the opposing voices such as that of Labour.
Omar added: 'Instead of having the courage to address the numerous security challenges facing us as a nation, and instead of coming up with relevant laws to deal with the endemic issues of corruption in the country and instead of creative legislations to generate employment and reduce poverty, the sponsors of this bill rather decided to assault Nigerians. That is why we condemn this new attempt as an insult on our collective psyche as a people and as a nation.'
Labour posited that executive arm of government must condemn the affront on Nigerians if it does want to be seen as an ally.
'Government must listen to us (Labour) and must therefore not seek to be silent on this matter,' it added.