NLC MUST END ANTI-LABOUR PRACTICES IN LCTS
NLC MUST END ANTI-LABOUR PRACTICES IN LCTS
CDWR Demands Reinstatement of Sacked LCTS Worker
By Bosah Chinedu
The Labour City Transport Limited (LCTS) is a transport scheme supposedly to assist workers move from one point to another affordably. In the absence of a coordinated, integrated and adequately funded public transportation, any private initiative will fail to resolve the transportation difficulties of the working masses. The motive of the scheme was to actually have a business venture to enable the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) generate resources outside union dues to enable them make up for lost ground associated with massive casualization and loss of jobs due to neo-liberal policies. It explains why unions are investing more in business ventures than working towards unionizing more workers and defending their rights.
However, the scheme has been operated on a “start and stop” basis in its over 20 years of existence apparently due to corruption and inefficiency. It was often revitalized after loans were secured. The last collapse happened in 2014 after 11 years of wobbling operation wherein workers struggled to get the company going despite being periodically owed several months of salaries. Salaries were paid piecemeal, workers were paid very low wage with poor condition of service and some workers who sustained injuries were not adequately compensated and 3 workers actually died due to these problems.
LCTS management and the NLC closed down operation for 3 months in January 2014 through a staff notice which violated relevant sections of the Labour Act which specifically stipulates the procedures for temporary closures and redundancy. The extension by one month in April 2014 of the closure also followed this line of illegality.
This continued illegality prompted the branch union executive of the NURTW to write a letter dated August 8, 2014 to the Board of Director of LCTS and copied to NLC President requesting the immediate payment of their outstanding salary since they are deemed workers by virtue of the labour law having not been properly disengaged.
Due to workers agitation, the Board of Director invited the branch union executive for a meeting that was held on November 19, 2014 in Abuja. The meeting concluded with the verbal pledge from LCTS management and the NLC to reabsorb all old staff before employing other workers on a better remuneration and condition of service for workers when operations resumes in 2015. It later turned out that the NLC leaders used the meeting to cajole the affected workers to accept the “pay-off” only to turn around and sack them.
Surprisingly, the Board of Directors of LCTS issued a letter of sack in December 2014 but backdated to read December 2013 and signed by Emmanuel Ugboaja (Board Secretary and Assistant General Secretary of the NLC) and unilaterally arrived at the terminal benefit of each worker in violation of the Labour Act. In this one-sided calculated “terminal benefit”, Pension, Group Life Insurance etc., were excluded. Apparently, the backdated sack was aimed at circumventing the payment of 2014 workers’ salary. This act runs contrary to the recent position of the NLC leaders including the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba who claimed that the body and its leaders will join in the fight against corruption. A mass rally against corrupt practices was actually done on September 10, 2015 in several states of the federation as well as Abuja. Backdating of a letter to take effect one year before is a fraud!
It is also a scandal that the NLC will deliberately block its workers from pension- not even the 2005 private pension scheme. Why would workers in a business venture owned by NLC not be pensionable? The affected workers claimed that they are 24 in number, most of whom have toiled since 2003 to build LCTS and do not deserve this treatment from the NLC and LCTS management. Despite the suffering, the affected workers were not only betrayed, they were also shortchanged and dumped. To make matter worse, all entreaties to NLC and the LCTS management to resolve this matter amicably have been ignored.
THE CDWR SUPPORT THE DEMANDS OF THE AFFECTED WORKERS:
- The “terminal benefit” paid some months back should be renegotiated with workers to take into consideration Pension, Group Life Insurance etc.
- The 2014 salaries should be paid to the affected workers.
- All old workers yet to be reabsorbed should be employed.
The affected workers should prepare to struggle to achieve their demands. This should include legal and political action. The CDWR calls on labour activists and pro-labour organizations to also support these demands as well as initiate or solidarise with the struggles of the affected workers for actualization of the demands.