The Alliance On Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) says it is in full support of the planned five-day strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Kaduna state.
SaharaReporters gathered that the proposed strike is in response to reform plans by the state government, including the recent dismissal of workers.
Various groups of state workers, including those in the electricity, health, and aviation sectors, had planned to participate.
ASCAB, in a statement signed by its interim Chair, Femi Falana (SAN), called on all its affiliates and supporters to provide support for the strike.
According to Falana, the move is necessary to force Governor Nasir El-Rufai to stop his policy of retrenchments and job losses.
The statement read, “The economy of Kaduna was traditionally built around textile factories and the public sector. In the decade before the current governor came to power, the last four major textile factories were closed with many of the workers not receiving any terminal benefits (despite two of the factories being mainly owned by the governments of the Northern states). Rather than seeking to address this economic decline, Governor El-Rufai has retrenched perhaps 60,000 public sector workers and many have not received their due payments.
“Kaduna State is now a dangerous state in Nigeria to live, work or visit in terms of the regularity of bloodshed, kidnappings and killings by bandits and ethno-religious inspired violence. The level of insecurity in Kaduna State today is a function of unprecedented, cruel anti-workers’ policy of the Kaduna State Government including repeated mass layoffs. The uncontrolled insecurity is therefore the ’harvest’ or product of the state’s anti-labour policies.
“In 2016, over 13,000 workers considered to be ghost workers, were dismissed. The following year another 40,000 public sector workers were retrenched. Around half of these were teachers. The state arbitrarily pegged the pass mark for their competency test at an unprecedented 75 per cent. Many of these teachers did not receive any redundancy money.
“From April of this year, the state government has been dismissing perhaps as many as another 17,000 workers. This includes 6,000 local government and primary health care workers who have all received their marching orders. The remaining 11,000 workers from the state ministries have been listed for dismissal on account of having spent 30 years and above in service and/or being on level 14 and above.
“Pensioners who have earned pension for between 5 and 10 years and have ‘refused to die’ are no longer to be paid. The state government maintains that their children should take care of them. The governor claims that these policies are necessary due to declining revenues, but this is far from the truth.
“The state has plenty of money – ‘borrows’ from workers. Kaduna State Government has significantly increased its internally generated revenue (IGR) over the last five years. IGR has increased by about 16% a year in real terms (after taking into account inflation). So IGR is now about half the total income of the state despite the fact that the monthly FAAC allocations are now increasing again as crude oil prices have recovered from the Covid-19 dip.
“In fact, actual spending on wages and salaries in 2019 (the last available audited accounts) was about a third the level that was spent on capital. In addition, the monies owed in salaries, pensions, etc. grew massively in 2019. At the end of the year, 40% of the state debt was borrowed from workers’ wages. Similarly, N132 billion of the N152 billion capital spent by the state during 2019 was borrowed from wages! That is nearly 90% of capital spending by the state was financed from unpaid salaries, pensions, etc. The state may be borrowing from China, the World Bank, etc. to fund urban renewal, but the state is also illegally ‘borrowing’ from its workers to fund almost all of its capital expenditure. They are then rewarded with repeated waves of retrenchments.
“A modern state needs satisfied workers. A modern state can only be built by a well-motivated workforce. Decent health and education services can only be provided by nurses and teachers who have confidence in the government, know they will be paid at the end of the month, are not living in fear of losing their jobs and believe that they will receive their pensions when due as they retire.
“Governor El-Rufai seems to have fully accepted the ethos of neoliberalism. The state government believes the rich and business people have to be handsomely rewarded and incentivised to ‘invest’ in the state. In contrast, the workers have to be paid the lowest possible salaries, beaten into submission and periodically terrorised by mass sackings.”