The dispute between organised labour and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, over the replacement of Chief Frank Kokori as Chairman, Board of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, deepened yesterday, after leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, directed workers to attack the minister and any member of his family anywhere they were sighted. The NLC leaders said they had declared total war against the minister over the attack by suspected thugs on labour leaders and others during the picketing of his private residence in Abuja on Wednesday. NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said labour had begun mobilising for a national protest to hold in Abuja on Monday to register its protest against the treatment meted out on them by the minister. He said: “We are coming prepared for him. The fundamental right of people to protest and assemble is sacrosanct. The minister tried to undermine the rights of workers. His son attacked the workers. “Anywhere and everywhere himself or members of his family are seen by workers, even at the airport where we have our workers, he should be attacked. “We have formally reported to the Police and Department of State Services, DSS.” Wabba added that the nine unionists, who were hospitalised in the wake of Wednesday’s attack, had been discharged.
Reacting to the development, the United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, condemned Wednesday’s attack on labour leaders and others by thugs at the private residence of the minister in Abuja. ULC, in a statement by its President, Joe Ajaero, contended that despite the denial of the minister on the attack on the labour leaders, he should be held accountable. Ajaero said: “The minister has denied sending the thugs, but we know from hindsight that if he did not send them directly, those who are under his control may have done it. In either case, the minister may be unfortunately complicit.” The body expressed concerns over increasing resort to use of armed thugs to handle industrial relations matter and warned of its dire consequences should the trend continue, calling “on the government to quickly call a round table of all major stakeholders within the nation’s industrial relations space for the purposes of seeking rapprochement with workers and their unions that have been brutalised.” Photo Credit: Getty