Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CRIN IBADAN: Workers Sacked, Union Activities Proscribed and the Institute Heavily Militarized!

CRIN IBADAN: Workers Sacked, Union Activities Proscribed and the Institute Heavily Militarized!

A Call for Solidarity Actions

By Abbey Trotsky
Tessy Chioma Chair NASU CRIN addresssing a rally of the striking Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria workers

Tessy Chioma Chair NASU CRIN addresssing a rally of the striking Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria workers

Various attacks on working conditions and democratic rights have been unleashed on workers of Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) since the assumption of Prof. Malacky Akoroda as the Director of the Institute. But this got worse on the Friday 24th January 2014 as the management commenced the issuance of sack letters to ninety five (95) workers on the spurious basis that they are yet to be confirmed as staff of the Institute.

This excuse for sacking workers seriously raises a big question on the administrative competency of Prof. Akoroda, especially when it is obvious that the responsibility of confirming any staff is that management.

According to Public Service Rule (PSR)-020301 officers on probation will be required to serve for two years before being confirmed in the service. The period of probation shall not exceed two years unless an extension is approved by the Federal Civil Service Commission. Such extension may be as a result of incremental penalty reference to in Rule 040206, if the commission so decides.

Going by this rule it is very clear that there is no provision in the PSR that gives room for outright dismissal in respect to issues that border on confirmation. It is only the Rule 040206 that stipulates numbers of penalty on incremental basis that may lead to extension of confirmation and not even a sack. It is only workers with repeated records of penalties as a result of any charge of misconduct that could be denied of confirmation after two years of probation. This is after such a worker on each occasion is issued query and avenue for fair hearing to defend himself/herself before a duly constituted panel that may or not found him/her guilty.

However, in case of the sacked workers in CRIN, there was no place in their respective sack letters where reference was made to penalty or penalties that warranted the sack or even extension by Prof. Akoroda-led management

In the light of the above, it is very clear that the recent mass sack in CRIN is a clear case of victimization and attack on working condition of workers of the institute towards weakening their collective strength, and aspirations. This is so because, since July, 2013, CRIN workers under the auspices of Joint Research and Allied Institution Sector Unions which comprise all the existing unions in the institute viz NASU, ASURI, SSA has been battling with Prof. Malachy Akorada, over his high handedness, denial of workers promotion, diversion of research materials for his personal use, etc.

Abbey Trotsky DSM Secretary Oyo State addressing the striking Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria workers

Abbey Trotsky DSM Secretary Oyo State addressing the striking Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria workers

Unfortunately, the dispute took another dimension on the Tuesday, 22nd October, 2013, when Francis Fadahunsi, the newly appointed board Chairman of the Institute visited the institute. Fadahunsi on this visit, which was the first as the chairman of the institute’s board, ordered his fully armed and rented thugs who accompanied him to the institute to disrupt the congress of workers who innocently were waiting for him with a false expectation that his presence will kick-start the process of resolving the lingering crisis in the institute.

In this brutal attack which took place in the presence of the Police and State Security Service operatives, many workers were seriously beaten and injured with machetes. Apparently considered the assault on the workers enough punishment for workers for challenging the management, Fadahunsi went ahead to pronounce the proscription of unions’ activities in the institute and suspension of some management staff over spurious allegation that they instigated the labour crisis. He also threatened to henceforth stop the salary of workers of the Institute.

It is in response to this ugly situation, that all the existing unions in the institute in conjunction with their national secretariats asked all their members to stay off work in an industrial action especially when it is obvious that the safety of their members cannot be guaranteed at work again.

Following the declaration of the industrial action, Prof Akoroda employed various dubious tactics and styles all in attempt to break this strike. At first, workers were asked to come for auditing. When it was obvious that this directive was ignored, he also resorted to coercive measure that any worker who failed to come for the auditing will either be ejected from their official staff quarter or be sacked.

Commendably, despite all these threats, workers remained resolute and determined to continue the strike until when the national leadership of one of the Unions which was leading the negotiation with the Management at the federal ministry of labour betrayed the struggle by asking workers to resume work based on trust without any signed agreement or memorandum of understanding (MOU).

This betrayal did not only embolden the Akoroda-led management but also exposed the workers to avoidable attack. It is against this background Prof. Akoroda sacked 95 workers and issued many query letters. Notably among those whom were given query letter is Mrs Otuonye Tessy Chioma, the NASU Chairperson of the institute.

Tessy, who was among the few contacts the members Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) made during the organization intervention in the struggle, has been facing one form of attack or the other. This is in connection with the fact that she has been resolute in ensuring that collective interest and aspiration of the entire workers of the institute is advanced and defended through a collective struggle.

Tessy is still being denied of her monthly salary from October till date as well as her promotional allowance. This is in addition to various interrogations she had been subjected to by the state security operatives. The management also connived with IPPS officers during the IPPS Verification exercise conducted in the institute to seize Tessy O-level Certificate under a false pretence that the certificate was to be taken for verification. All this is in efforts to intimate her and make sure that she compromises the interest of the members of her union.

Remarkably, despite all these attacks and intimidation Tessy remains determined and courageous. Her determined and courageous leadership spirit also reflected in the conduct and heroic roles played by members of her union (NASU) during the strike action which to a large extent explained why NASU members form the bulk of the sacked workers.

In fear of workers action and resistance, Prof. Akoroda reminiscent of the inglorious era of military dictatorship has invited police who have stationed three armored tanks vehicle in the institute. This naked display of despotism must be resisted and defeated!

It is in the light of this, we call on Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC); the national leaderships of the unions in the institute and civil society organization to organise various solidarity actions to ensure the sacked workers are unconditionally reinstated, all demands of workers are met, and draconian policies of Prof Akorada management of the institute are defeated.

We also call on labour activists, human rights fighters, socialists, workers and youths to join the protest against this unjust and inhuman treatment of workers in CRIN, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria by writing, calling or sending text messages to the following:

(1) Director of Human Resources Ministry of Agric. Tel: 08033043912. E-mail: [email protected]
(2) Executive Director, CRIN. Tel: 08078669996; 08035829286. E-mail:[email protected] and [email protected]
(3) Oyo State Director of SSS. Tel: 08035787042
Please copy all the protest letters to [email protected] and [email protected]