Civil servants in Kaduna State have shunned their offices in protest against the new verification exercise introduced by the state government mandating them to indicate if they want to be part of a labour union or not.
In their hundreds, they converged on the state NLC secretariat on Wednesday with representatives of affiliate unions and civil society organisations to hold a mini rally in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria.
They condemned what they described as the deliberate attempt by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to enslave them and destabilise unionism in the state public service.
The workers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) alleged that most of them had not been paid salaries for about eight months.
Speaking in company of the TUC President, Bobbi Kaigama, and a rights activist, Festus Okoye; the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, explained that one of the columns in the form required workers to indicate whether they wanted to belong to a union or not.
He added that the new directive was strange to them.
“It contravenes the labour laws concerning to employees/employers condition of service,” he said.
Also at the rally was the former NLC Vice President, Issa Aremu, who said that the organised labour would use all legal means at their disposal to ensure that the new policy does not stand, maintaining that the governor had no right to meddle into labour affairs.
Reacting to the protest, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Finance, Suleiman Kwari, said that the exercise was aimed at ascertaining the true number of its workforce and not targeted to destabilise the unions.
He explained that there was nothing wrong with the government asking the workers to indicate if they wanted to belong to a union or not since it was optional to do so.
The commissioner also disclosed that those who were being owed salaries had issues with their documentation.
The Kaduna State has given the workers till Monday, March 28, to fill and return the forms and has vowed to apply sanctions against defaulters.