Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has criticised Governor Yahaya Bello, for proscribing the Academic Staff Union, ASUU, Kogi State University, KSU, chapter.
“Even in the dark days of the military when such obnoxious actions were attempted against the unions, the Juntas had to reverse themselves in compliance with International Conventions and laws of the land”, NLC said in a letter to Bello by its President, Ayuba Wabba.
Labour lamented that the action was contrary to the International Labour Organisation, ILO, convention that had recognized freedom of association.
“We therefore call on Your Excellency to allow reason and sound judgement to prevail as well as desist from these ill-advised and thoughtless steps that would make the country a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
“Coupled with this, 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.”
Wabba added that ASUU did no wrong by embarking on strike in protest against unpaid salaries, allowances and pensions.
The labour leader insisted that the governor’s action was hasty and ill-advised which contradicted all known and extant national and international laws and conventions.
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He said “the Governor has no right to ban a Union. Trade Unions as independent workers organisations 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 organise 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.”
“This 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”
“The contravention of these laws by Your Excellency is not only a violation of ILO Conventions and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but 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.”
The letter was copied to the Minister of Labour and Employment and other relevant Government agencies for appropriate action