By Joan Nwagwu
Workers under the auspices of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday grounded business activities at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja, over alleged anti-labour practices of the management.
The protest which was led by the NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, involved workers under the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), and Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporation and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protest disrupted normal business activities as most of the staff who turned up for work were prevented from gaining entrance into the building by placard-carrying members of the union.
Speaking on the action, the NLC president accused the commission’s Registrar-General, Garba Abubakar, of stalling staff promotion, embezzlement, impediment for the staff to unionise, forceful transfers of married staff, among others.
“All the female workers with their husbands working here, he transferred them away and left their husbands here, causing problem in their various homes.
“We are here to make the point and to ensure that workers’ right are not meant to be trampled upon.
“The fundamental issue is not about unionisation, no, it is about respecting workers’ right. It is not about the issue of membership but about defending the workers’ right.
“For the first instance, we will be here for three days.
“He should try to come out to address workers because we have raised some fundamental issue of how he used N250 million to build car pack, how he used N35 million to fumigate office, in Zone 5,” said the NLC president.
He also alleged that the the CAC management used N25 million to paint the office and N86 million to upgrade CAC server which constituted problem between the management and union.
“So we are saying, we have raised this issue openly, so let him come out and defend himself.
“He is not fighting the union because of membership but because the unions has exposed him, ”he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Duke Ukaga, Director, Public Affairs, CAC, while reacting to the protest, said the claim that the management had refused to allow staff unionise freely and were being compelled to join a particular labour union was not true.
“The commission, being a very law-abiding organisation, is obeying the rules of the National Industrial Court.
“The court gave a ruling in December 2019 and May 2020, stating categorically that the union which most of the staff had joined AUPCTRE was a junior staff union and not applicable to senior staff.
“This is in line with the Trade Union Act 2004 and 2005. The Commission is only obeying the Court judgement and till date, there has been no injunction or stay of execution order. So for them to say that we are forcing them to join the union it’s manifestly wrong.
“As a result, the Commission gave the staff the option of choosing which union to join. For the junior staff, they went for AUPCTRE while the senior staff freely indicated to join Senior SSASCGOC,” he said.
He also added that on the issue of transfers, there was a standing rule in the public service about spouses working in the same department and office, adding that the management might in their wisdom post any staff anywhere.
On the issue of embezzlement, Ukaga strongly refuted the claim, saying “Though I am not into fumigation, we have a standard for fumigation considering the type and size of the building. I can assure you that our management cannot embezzle any government money.
“Our Registrar General is one of the hardworking staff that we have here. He is always among the first to resume and last to close. He has not even travelled abroad since he was appointed,” he said.
NAN reports that the NLC has vowed to sustain the protest for three days until the management of CAC reverses its alleged anti-workers policies.
After several hours of protest, the police intervened to bring the situation under control. (NAN)