By Joan Nwagwu
The Federal Government has received the interim report of the 10-man Bipartite Committee it constituted to resolve the dispute between the Kaduna State Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige made this known when he received the report from the committee on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ngige said the dispute could have been worse if not for the intervention of the Federal Government.
He said those who criticized them for not pre-empting the strike, spoke from a standpoint of ignorance, adding that somebody having a doctoral degree in any discipline did not give him the right to speak on labour matters.
He recalled that there had been no love lost between the Kaduna State Government and NLC since teachers were sacked in the state sometime in 2017.
“It is the same matter we are handling. It is crystallizing. In that one, teachers without requisite qualification were teaching children. We said no. We agreed on what should be done and it was done.
”I advised labour to tell their members to get the required qualification to ensure quality education and it was done. In this case, it was redundancy,”he said.
Ngige described the submission of the report as a new dawn and a very important landmark in the history of the Ministry of Labour and Employment since he came to the ministry.
The minister said that the issue of Kaduna State Government and NLC took national attention.
He said it was a crisis that they needed to stop, otherwise it would conflagrate and fester into the other states of the North West, which are contiguous to Kaduna State.
“Just like President Buhari said, Kaduna is the home of retired generals, former ministers, Police chiefs, retired permanent secretaries and who is who in old Northern Region, just like Enugu is for the old Eastern Region and Ibadan for the Western Region.
“The president said we should do everything to arrest the situation in Kaduna. It has not been easy for me and the permanent secretary.
”We were on our phones talking to the NLC and Kaduna State Government. We are happy that it has been brought under control. It could have been worse,”he said.
Ngige commended members of the committee for bringing up themselves to do the work.
He noted that it would have been made a bipartite committee of Kaduna State Government and NLC, but in this case, they decided to include the Permanent Secretary as the Chairman of the committee.
“I listened to the report presented by the Chairman. You kept to the original terms of reference you were given during the inauguration of the committee three weeks ago.
”That helps the work and the employees and their leaders seeing what has been done, you will know that there is no victimisation as alleged.
”You have shown transparency. Somebody cannot be working without the necessary certification. Somebody who is not a nurse and is found in a hospital must go.
“People who have disciplinary matters of fraud and misappropriation of funds, you have the right to disengage them under the omnibus of redundancy. If as government, you are spending all your money on personnel, it does not make sense.
”That money is for everybody in the state. It is for social, educational and capital infrastructure. I am satisfied,”he added.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Peter Tarfa while presenting the report, said they recommended that the disengaged staff of the Local Government, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Primary Health Care Board and all those not paid, should be paid appropriate benefits.
Tarfa, who is also the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, said the committee also recommended that the Staff of Kaduna State Development Company who disengaged between 2017 and 2020 should be paid their appropriate benefits.
“There is also need for consultation between the government and labour in line with the prescription of the Labour Act and other relevant labour statutes.
“There is need for mutual respect and confidence building between the social partners, especially on issues of Collective Bargaining,”he said.
He said that the need for breach in communication gap between Kaduna State Government and Labour officials, which the committee observed was principally the reason for the strike.
He added that in terms of victimisation, the committee recommended that a letter should be issued, overriding all the queries answered by the nurses.
The NLC Deputy President and Co-Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Mr Najeem Yasin commended the Minister and the Chairman of the Committee, saying that they wished that all the recommendations would be implemented.
Similarly, the Secretary to Government, Kaduna State, Balarabe Lawal commended the minister for his intervention, reassuring that they came with the sole aim of finding a lasting peace in Kaduna State(NAN)