Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and his Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, on Sunday threw their weight behind the planned five-day warning strike by the organised labour in Kaduna State, faulting the state Governor, Nasir el-Rufai of sacking over 60,000 workers since he took office in May 2015.
The five-day warning strike is expected to commence on Monday.
In the statement by ASCAB and Falana on Sunday, the group called on all NLC affiliates and supporters to join the “essential strike”, adding that a “firm action is needed to reverse the massive attacks on jobs and poverty induced insecurity in Kaduna State.”
Falana, who said the economy of Kaduna was traditionally built around textile factories and the public sector, said that in the decade before the administration of el-Rufai, the last four major textile factories were closed with many of the workers not receiving any terminal benefits despite two of the factories being mainly owned by the governments of the northern states.
According to Falana, instead of Governor el-Rufai to address this economic decline, he has retrenched about 60,000 public sector workers and many have not received their due payments.
He said: “Kaduna State is now a dangerous state in Nigeria to live, work or visit in terms of the regularity of bloodshed, kidnappings and killings by bandits and ethno-religious inspired violence. The level of insecurity in Kaduna State today is a function of unprecedented, cruel anti-workers’ policy of the Kaduna State Government including repeated mass layoffs. The uncontrolled insecurity is, therefore, the ’harvest’ or product of the State’s anti-labour policies.”
Speaking further, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that in 2016, over 13,000 workers considered to be ghost workers, were dismissed. The following year another 40,000 public sector workers were retrenched.
“Around half of these were teachers. The state arbitrarily pegged the pass mark for their competency test at an unprecedented 75 per cent. Many of these teachers did not receive any redundancy money.
“From April of this year, the state government has been dismissing perhaps as many as another 17,000 workers. This includes 6,000 local government and primary health care workers who have all received their marching orders. The remaining 11,000 workers from the state ministries have been listed for dismissal on account of having spent 30 years and above in service and/or being on level 14 and above,” Falana said.
The senior advocate noted that pensioners who have earned pension for between five and 10 years and have ‘refused to die’ are no longer being paid
“The state has plenty of money – ‘borrows’ from workers. Kaduna State Government has significantly increased its internally generated revenue over the last five years. IGR has increased by about 16 per cent a year in real terms (after taking into account inflation). So IGR is now about half the total income of the state despite the fact that the monthly FAAC allocations are now increasing again as crude oil prices have recovered from the Covid-19 dip,” he said.