Abia State is facing an impending industrial crisis due to the state government’s attempt to assume control of the leadership of the state council of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
The Secretary to State Government (SSG), Professor Kenneth Kalu, wrote a letter on 20th June 2023, referenced SSG/ABS/S.139/VOL.XLII/19, addressed to the President of the NURTW. In the letter, the SSG requested permission to appoint leaders for NURTW in the state. The proposed appointments include Mr. Chukwuma Anazodo as Chairman, Mr. Chika Arthur as Deputy Chairman, Mr. Tochi Ephraim as Treasurer, Mr. Azubuike Victor as Financial Secretary, and Anyanwu Ogaraku as Organising Secretary, among others.
In response to the letter, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) expressed its dismay through a petition signed by its President, Joe Ajaero, and Governor Alex Otti, among others. The NLC highlighted the sanctity of the independence of trade unions, as guaranteed by Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 9 of the Trade Union Act, and Article 3 of Convention 87 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which Nigeria ratified after gaining independence.
Article 3 of ILO Convention 87 affirms the rights of workers’ and employers’ organizations to formulate their constitutions, elect their representatives freely, manage their activities, and create their programs. Public authorities are expected not to interfere with or restrict this right.
The NLC criticized the Abia State Government’s letter, considering it impulsive, ill-informed, and unlawful, as it infringes upon the fundamental principles of trade unionism and labour relations. They demanded the immediate withdrawal and disavowal of the SSG’s letter by the Abia State Government. Additionally, they called for a commitment from the state government not to interfere with the activities of trade unions within the state and urged the adoption of social dialogue to address any grievances the government might have with the current leadership of NURTW in Abia State.
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