Anxiety as NLC shuts down Kaduna, lock airport, train station
Business and commercial activities in Kaduna state came to a standstill on Monday as the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) commenced its five days warning strike to protest the sack of 4,000 workers by Governor Nasir el-Rufai. The five-day warning strike by the NLC and its affiliate unions and associations, which was also to forestall further proposed sacks by Kaduna state government, saw the state thrown into complete darkness since Saturday as the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) switched off the 33kva injection sub-station serving the state at Mando.
Impact of the total blackout was further felt by the citizens, as supply of fuel to Kaduna state was cut-off, leaving filling stations in Kaduna to close shop and join the strike as residents seeking fuel for their generators were left at the mercy of black market operators who now sell fuel at exorbitant rates to make good profit while the strike lasts.
Activities at the Kaduna International Airport was also in a lull as the airport was under lock and key since Monday morning with no plane taking off or landing at the airport.
The Rigasa train station terminal serving the Abuja – Kaduna trains and passengers also took time off as no train came to the Rigasa station, while no train left as well.
There have been threats to the labour movement that the strike will not be effective because private sector workers would not join, but that became a ruse as all the commercial banks visited by our correspondent in Kaduna were locked up due to the strike action.
Though immediate past president of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) Comrade Najim Yasin was one of the labour leaders that led the labour protest procession to Kaduna State House of Assembly from the NLC state secretariat, taxi and commercial bus drivers were still going about their businesses without let.
Meanwhile, NLC Chairman Kaduna state, Comrade Ayuba Suleiman Magaji, urged, “residents of the state to remain calm and peaceful throughout the five days warning strike period. We are assuring the Kaduna state workers and the general public of our commitment to maintain peaceful strike action.”
He said while they were misled to commend the state government over the N30,000 minimum wage, “the government reverted to old minimum wage of N18, 000 in the month of April, 2021 salary in the local government council, about 20, 000 state civil servants received half salary which is even less than the former N18, 000 minimum wage.
“Health workers were denied almost all their allowances such as hazard, call duty, shifting, rural posting. Kaduna state government on the bases of their claim that it had paid up to N14 billion as arrears of death benefit and gratuity from 2017 but the fact is that the same government disengaged over 35, 000 civil servants in 2017 and up to date over 80 percent have not received their retirement benefits.
“The state government in its ignorance failed to realize the obvious fact that payments of salaries have multiplying effects on the social- welfare and economy. When salaries are paid it reflect down the line. The unfortunate downsizing of work force in Kaduna state was not done in accordance with the statutory Labour Law, with keen examination of it’s activities from 2017 till date, over 50,000 workers were affected.
“Over 21,000 teachers were sacked, 5,000 local government workers were equally disengaged in 2017, while another 12,000 state civil servants were also unfairly disengaged and the recent sacking of over 7,000 workers of local government in the month of April, 2021 these lay credence to the figure given by the NLC.”