Chris Steven, Abuja
The leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has described the proscription of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Kogi State by Yahaya Bello, Governor of the state as the height of impunity and high handedness that have characterized his administration since he was sworn-in.
The Congress in a protest letters to Bello signed by Ayuba Wabba, its President, over the proscription of the university lecturers’ union over their seven-month strike in protest against unpaid salaries, allowances and pensions said the hasty and ill-advised action contradicts all known and extant national and international laws and conventions, noting that as the Governor, he has no right to ban a union.
According to the labour body, trade unions as independent workers organizations are neither under the control of the state government nor registered by it.
“According to ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, which has been duly ratified by the country, workers shall have the right to organize and form trade unions, and “public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof”, and the unions “shall not be liable to be dissolved or suspended by administrative authority.” It said
It argued that the Convention is not only reinforced by ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining, but buttressed and domesticated by the 1999 Constitution which states unequivocally in Section 40 that every person shall not only be entitled to freely assemble or associate, but in particular, shall “freely form or belong to trade unions and other associations for the protection of his interests”
NLC noted that the contravention of these laws by Bello amounts to a violation of ILO Conventions and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as an abuse of the fundamental human rights of the lecturers in Kogi State.
“Your action is also a representation of the height of impunity and high-handedness that has, unfortunately characterized governance in Kogi State since your assumption of office”.
While urging him to reverse the proscription of the union, the Congress said a non-reversal will provoke a serious national action in the state.
“We are afraid to state that such precipitate actions are capable of exacerbating the already fragile social and industrial relations atmosphere in the state. And although we do not intend a threat, the non-reversal of this abhorrent and repugnant decision will inevitably provoke a serious national action in the state” NLC warned.