Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday, carpeted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, over alleged plans to proscribe the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
It said the minister’s purported action has showed him as someone who does not believe in civilized and democratic society.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, in his reaction, however, demanded a public apology with immediate withdrawal of the threat letter to NUPENG, dated May 13.
According to him, “We wish to unequivocally posit that the cruel urgency communicated in his letter suggests only one thing: unveiled desperation to disorganise and destroy trade unionism in Nigeria. It is also not a coincidence that this is coming on the heels of our recent protests against the activities of the Minister of Labour and Employment to undermine organised labour and trade unions in Nigeria.
“We are privy to the fact that shortly after our last protest, a directive was issued from the office of the Minister of Labour to officers in the Ministry of Labour and Employment to fish for grounds on which to deal decisively with organized labour.
‘’We understand that the Nigeria Labour Congress is the primary target in the current overdrive to run trade unionism in Nigeria under ground. It was only when the fishing expedition failed to grab anything against Nigeria Labour Congress that the hunters turned their barrels on NUPENG.
‘’This attitude of vindictiveness is not only unbecoming of ‘the only competent authority on labour matters’ but also uncivilised, ungentlemanly, undemocratic, uncut and unpolished.
“Unfortunately, even the most despicable dictators in global annals have never descended to this low of shameful abuse of public office and trust to hound, persecute and terrorize innocent workers, national labour centres and their affiliate unions.
It is highly disgusting that this behaviour is coming from a so-called democrat who has had the privilege of seeking public acquiescence, especially the votes of workers while contesting for the position of the governor of a state.
“Given that the intention of the minister’s recent directive is aimed at achieving narrow, petty and selfish ends, we demand the withdrawal of Dr. Chris Ngige’s letter to NUPENG.
“We also call for a public apology from the Minister of Labour for yet another round of assault on organised labour in Nigeria. “Furthermore, we demand that the Minister of Labour and Employment publicly guarantees that he desists from further harassment, victimisation and persecution of workers, our trade unions and the two labour centres in Nigeria.
“We do not wish that the current fragile industrial peace in our country collapses completely on the account of endless provocations by the Minister of Labour and Employment.”
Meanwhile, the United Labour Congress in a statement by its President, Joe Ajaero, on Monday said: “Whatsoever may have been the provocations, we expect the Federal Ministry of Labour to act on the side of caution and avoid creating impressions that may suggest a witch-hunt and a deliberate attempt to intimidate the millions of workers who are members of NUPENG into silence.
“The deployment of actions that clearly run against the ethics of our engagement should not be an option as we seek to resolve whatsoever grievances that may arise in our relations.
“ULC cannot fold its arms and watch NUPENG, a very strong affiliate of it, harassed by others over a matter that can be handled more responsibly and amicably by all parties.
“To this end, we are exploring avenues to seek more sensible and amicable resolution of all issues involved to avoid plunging this nation into a disastrous industrial unrest with unimaginable consequences.
“Once again, we urge restraint on all sides as we seek avenues for peaceful dialogue and resolution, which is our considered duty as a responsible Labour centre at this fragile times when our nation is under enormous pressure from anti-democratic forces and tendencies.
‘’This is the only way we can avoid playing into the hands of those fanning the embers of crisis within the nation’s industrial space.”
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