Kaduna Labour Crisis: NLC Threatens National Strike

Kaduna Labour Crisis

There was confusion in Kaduna, the Kaduna State capital, on Tuesday when thugs attacked workers at a rally organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress as the strike in the state entered the second day.

The NLC, in a statement by its Acting General Secretary, Ismail Bello, condemned the attack and threatened to embark on a nationwide strike.

Earlier, the state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, had declared the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, wanted for economic sabotage.

The state workers had on Monday begun a five-day strike over the governor’s retrenchment of 45,000 workers and the alleged anti-labour policies of the government.

The strike paralysed the state on Monday as civil servants, aviation and rail workers joined the industrial action.
On Tuesday, the workers, as early as 7am converged on the state NLC secretariat along the Race Course Road, Ungwan-Rimi, Kaduna, from where they marched to NEPA Roundabout at 11am.

It was learnt that the NLC planned to march to the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, along Sokoto road in the metropolis.

But trouble started at 12pm when hoodlums in hundreds with dangerous weapons such as clubs, knives and stones attacked workers and labour leaders.

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Suspected thugs who came in two vehicles hauled stones at the workers, chasing them to the other side of the Ahmadu Bello Way before the NLC members, who were more in numbers retreated and chased them (thugs) away.

But for the police Special Force that accompanied the NLC members, who swiftly moved to avert the crisis, it would have snowballed into a bloody clash.

Other police operatives stationed by the side of the roundabout fired teargas canisters to disperse the hoodlums while the NLC mobilised its members to chase the thugs away. The attack lasted for less than an hour.

Speaking at the rally shortly after the confusion, the NLC president alleged that the state government hired the hoodlums to attack the peaceful rally, saying that “we have dismantled them.”

Wabba said, “I called the Department of State Services headquarters, I called the DIG Operation. I also called the State(Kaduna) Director of the DSS, I gave them the information.

“While we are here (NEPA roundabout), they(thugs) came but we thank God that we have dismantled them. We have chased them away because we have the numbers.

“We have no thugs and we are not using thugs but we have Nigerian workers. And we thank God that we will catch them alive and we are going to dismantle them.”

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El-Rufai had earlier on Tuesday declared the NLC president and other officials of the union wanted for sabotaging the economy of the state.

The governor tweeted, “Ayuba Wabba & others of @NLCHeadquarters declared wanted for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure under Miscellaneous Offences Act. Anyone that knows where he is hiding should send a message to @MOJKaduna KDSG. There will be a handsome reward!”

But curiously, the NLC President was at the rally at the NEPA roundabout, which the thugs interrupted.

I am here, Wabba fires back at El-Rufai

When asked about the order of the governor declaring him wanted, Wabba laughed it off, saying he was not hiding as claimed by the governor.

He said, “I am here sound and direct. Is he (El-Rufai) court?”

No comprise with labour – El-Rufai insists

Earlier at the launch of the Kaduna State Agricultural Policy held at the late General Hassan Katsina House, Kawo, Kaduna, the governor said he would not compromise with the labour leaders over the sacking of workers.

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El-Rufai claimed that the union had attacked facilities in the state as such risk being prosecuted.

He said, “They have attacked facilities. They have engaged in economic sabotage. That’s an offence under the miscellaneous act and we want him (NLC President) .

“We bring him to justice. We are looking for him. He should report to the nearest police station or report to us. He will be prosecuted for economic sabotage.”
When asked if the two parties had reached compromised, El-Rufai said, “There are no grounds for compromise. They have used their last ultimate weapon. It will not change anything. It will not change our position and that’s it.”

Meanwhile, as of the time of filing this report, the train station located at the Rigasa in the Igabi Local Government Area of the State, was shut to passengers and the railway workers.

Some schools both public and private complied with the directive to withdraw their services. This was just as banks and other financial institutions fully complied with the directives of the national body of the NLC.

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