Nigeria: NLC Strike - Kaduna Govt. Defiant, Says Civil Service 'Right-Sizing' to Continue

"What is happening in Kaduna is not an industrial action but a campaign of social and economic sabotage"

A defiant Kaduna State government has said the five-day warning strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), which began on Monday, will not distract it from its plan to 'rightsize' the civil service of the state.

The state government dismissed the strike and street protests as an attempt by labour union leaders to sabotage its policy but said the first day of the strike has not affected the operations of the government.

The state's Head of Service, Bara'atu Mohammed, said this to journalists in Kaduna during a brief state executive council meeting on Monday.

Mrs Mohammed said the state government will not rescind the decison to sack civil servants that are not needed in the state.

She said the NLC strike and protest were an attempt to sabotage the policy of the government, vowing ,however, that the government will not be distracted.

"What is happening in Kaduna is not an industrial action but a campaign of social and economic sabotage.

"Kaduna State government is functioning despite the illegal attempt to block our offices, hospitals and schools. The schools are opened, our offices are opened, the hospitals are opened.

"NLC are aware that inflicting pains on citizens by locking hospitals and shutting down electricity will not change the decision of Kaduna State government to rightsize and will not change our intention to use the Trade Union Act which prohibits strike by extension service workers."

Mrs Mohammed also said she received the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in hear office Monday morning who told the government they will not be part of the NLC strike.

"The TUC met with us today and we had a fruitful discussion. It was a good discussion. They also promised us they will not be party to the NLC strike in the state.

NLC Strike

The five-day warning strike called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Kaduna State kicked off Monday morning, with officials of the union picketing government ministries and parastatals and denying civil servants access to the state secretariat.

Civil servants, in their hundreds, stood at the gate of the state secretariat on the popular Independence Way on Monday morning after union officials picketed the facility.

The NLC had called on all unions to join the warning strike it called to force the state government to rescind its plan to sack many civil servants and "rightsize" the state's bureaucracy.

They marched from the state secretariat to the state House of Assembly complex before retiring at the Labour office in Kaduna.

However, the state government has described the action of the NLC as illegal and urged residents of the state to remain calm.

Muyiwa Adekeye, the spokesperson to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, said in a statement that "the conditions that compelled its decision to rightsize have not been altered by the NLC's campaign of economic and social sabotage.

"KDSG remains firmly committed to using all the resources it can generate to serve the interests of the majority of its citizens, putting the many ahead of the few. The unlawful actions and reckless statements that define the NLC's assault on the rights of the people of Kaduna State, are a needless exercise in futility.

"Desperate actions undertaken by the NLC today include unlawful trespass on government facilities, and attempts to prevent officers from signing attendance registers.

"Despite these actions, the state government has guaranteed access to the State Secretariat and other government offices. KDSG intends to continue running its operations in the service to the people, despite the futile efforts of the NLC to impede it.

"The State Executive Council also held its regular weekly meeting to discuss policy matters germane to the progress of the state and the welfare of its people.

"In addition to shutting down electricity, the NLC has also shut healthcare access for several of our citizens. They have closed several hospitals and chased away the patients. General hospitals in Kawo, Tudun-Wada, Kafanchan, Giwa, Rigasa, Kakuri and Sabon Tasha were illegally locked.

"They also shut rural hospitals and primary health centres in Kwoi, Turunku and other locations across the state. Preventing patients from receiving treatment in public health facilities certainly does not qualify as a pro-people action.

"The State Government is documenting all these violations of the Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Trade Union Act. The government shares the pain of the people of Kaduna State amidst the avalanche of unlawful conduct by the NLC and appeals to all residents to remain calm and vigilant. It should be obvious that the resort to coercion and imposition of restraints on the personal freedom and comfort of citizens confirm that this is a campaign of sabotage, not an industrial action.

"KDSG welcomes the visit by the leaders of the Trade Union Congress who met with our Head of Service, Bariatu Y. Mohammed, this morning. Hajiya Bariatu commended the constructive attitude of the TUC delegation led by Barrister Musa Lawal, its Secretary-General. The Head of Service also disclosed that all officers from GL 14 upwards are expected at their duty posts as usual."

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