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Labour Dispute: Fuel Scarcity Looms In Kaduna As NUPENG Directs Workers To Withdraw Service

Akinola Ajibola  
Updated May 12, 2021
A file photo of an attendant filling the fuel tank of a car.

 

The disagreement between the government and labour union in Kaduna State is worsening and its consequences already stare residents in the face.

One of the negative effects of the impasse is the looming scarcity of fuel as members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) threaten to down tools for an initial period of five days.

This followed the directive of the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that all workers in the state should withdraw services within the period, in protest against some of the actions of the government.

The union accused the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, of anti-labour acts such as the sacking of many workers in the state and refusal to implement the new minimum wage.

In a circular obtained by Channels Television on Wednesday, the oil workers were directed to down tools from work from Sunday.

“Following the series of anti-labour acts and behaviour of the Kaduna State government being led by Mr El-Rufai, as shown in the mass sack of teachers and other civil servants in the state, and his refusal to implement the new minimum wage as provided for in the new minimum wage law, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed that there should be a total withdrawal of services to Kaduna State by the Nigerian Workers for five days in the first instance from Sunday, 16 May 2021.

“Consequent upon that directive, you are hereby direct to effect maximum compliance of this directive for the successful execution of this campaign against anti-labour activities and behaviour of the Executive Governor of Kaduna State.

“Our solidarity remains constant for the union makes us strong!” said the circular dated May 11, 2021, and addressed to the Chairman/Secretary of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of NUPENG.

In this document, the oil workers were directed to withdraw their service from May 16, 2021.

 

First To Pay New Minimum Wage

Although the state government has since refuted the claims by the labour union, it announced in April that it would right-size its public service.

The government explained that the decision was necessary to enable it to cope with fiscal challenges and preserve its ability to use its resources for the entire state.

It noted that verification of personnel data was being conducted to determine the specific number of political appointees and civil servants that will be affected.

The government had also denied the allegations of anti-labour activities, stressing that workers have been receiving the new minimum wage since 2019.

“In September 2019, the Kaduna State government became the first government to begin paying the new N30,000 minimum wage and consequential adjustments.

“The state government also increased minimum pension to N30,000 monthly for those on the defined benefits scheme. The state is honouring these obligations and will continue to do so,” Governor El-Rufai’s spokesperson, Muyiwa Adekeye, had said in a statement on Monday last week.

A file photo of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

 

He added that the state government banned casualisation of staff in 2017, the same year in which authorised establishments were approved for all the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Adekeye said Kaduna North and Kaduna South LGAs were authorised to have 256 staff each, and 304 staff were approved for each of the other 21 local councils.