Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CRIN IBADAN: One Year of Campaign for the Reinstatement of the Sacked 95 Workers!

CRIN IBADAN: One Year of Campaign for the Reinstatement of the Sacked 95 Workers!

  • CDWR Solicit For More Support And Solidarity
By A.O.Babajide

On January 24, 2015 it was exactly a year, 95 staff (not casual workers) of Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan had been arbitrarily sacked by the Prof. Akoroda-led management of the institute. The reason for their sack was that they participated in the industrial action declared by the national body of all the existing unions in the institute between October, 23rd and December 17th, 2013 against some anti-workers and undemocratic actions being perpetrated by Prof. Akoroda-led management of the institute.

Trying to justify this action, Prof Akoroda, the executive director of the institute had allegedly claimed that the sacked workers lack the right to join the industrial action because they were still workers on probation despite the fact that they have spent over two years in service as staff of the institute. This argument is indeed indicative an act of disrespect to law and mutual agreement.

The victimised workers were denied of confirmation of appointment against the provision of the public service rules and later sacked in violation of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both CRIN management and the national leadership of the three existing unions during the industrial dispute in contention.

While the MOU states among other things that “As a show of good faith in social dialogue, there shall be no victimization of workers for acts/or omission in the course of the industrial action”, the Public service rule (PSR)-020301 states that no officers on probation shall exceed two years on probation period unless an extension is approved by the Federal Civil Service Commission; such extension may be as a result of incremental penalty reference in Rule 040206, if the commission so decides.

Rule 040206 of the same PSR also states that before a worker can be recommended for an extension of confirmation of appointment such worker must have repeated records of penalties resulting from charges of misconduct. This is after such a worker on each occasion was issued query and avenue for fair hearing to defend him or herself before a duly constituted panel that may found him/her guilty.

In view of this background, it is a vicious attack on workers democratic rights to be refused confirmation of appointment beyond two years on probation period and such denial of confirmation of appointment lacks a basis to sack any worker for exercising his/her democratic right to peaceful assembly and association as being guaranteed in the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.

Based on our convictions that the mass sack is a pure case of victimization specially carried out to weaken the collective zeal and determination of workers in the institute to struggle, we of CDWR has been organizing the 95 sacked workers since the inception of this attack. A series of actions which include protest rally, press conferences, and regular issuance of press statements have been organized by CDWR in conjunction with the committee of the sacked workers. The latest of these actions was organized on the 22nd January 2015, under a heavily militarized atmosphere, in front of the CRIN main entrance. This action which was held to mark the first anniversary of the mass sack was well attended by workers and widely reported by the media. However, the matter is still in court and the next hearing date is June 3, 2015. The unions must lead active political struggle alongside the legal battle to defeat the management.

While these actions, supports and solidarities given to this struggle by comrades and activists locally and internationally have won some concessions like the re-opening of the sealed accommodation of the sacked workers who reside in the staff quarters and freedom of the sacked workers to now openly organized within the quarters, the current situation in CRIN still means that more actions, supports and solidarities are still needed.

Take for instance, the Executive Director of the institute has not desisted from his traditional act of bringing up trumped-up charges against Mrs. Tessy Otunoye, the Chairperson of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) in the institute who is also a member of CDWR. This is to intimidate and make her vulnerable for sack. This is in addition to the fact that the management has continued to withhold the October to December 2013 salaries of the workers.

We also call the leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), NASU, ASURI; SSAUTHRIAI, human rights organizations and pro-labour activists to actively support the beleaguered workers of the CRIN in their plight and struggle against the despotic management of the institute. This therefore calls for an immediate commencement of sustained mass actions to defeat all undemocratic actions of the management.

Finally, we also hold that Prof. Akoroda must also be prevailed upon to comply with another memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by himself and national representatives of ASURI and SSAUTHRIAI in the presence of Director TUSIR Department, Federal Ministry of Labour & Productivity on the February 17, 2014. In this MOU, it was stated among other things that “the decision on the suspension/proscription of Trade Union activities in CRIN should be rescinded as it is ultra vires and therefore null and void. Besides, it is contrary to labour laws and international labour standard. In view of this, CRIN management was directed to recommence deduction and remittance of Trade Union dues to SSAUTHRIAI and ASURI in the institute.

If you are dissatisfied with what is happening in CRIN, please send this message: “Prof. Akoroda should recall 95 sacked CRIN workers, stop victimization of workers and respect democratic rights of workers including right to trade union” to 08033043912.