PRESS STATEMENT: That Obnoxious Bill Sponsored by Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Rivers State condemns in its entirety the renewed moves by some visionless politicians to emasculate the Trade Union movement in Nigeria. We are happy to remind Sen. Lokpobiri and his cohorts that trade unions in Nigeria, since colonial times, have done more than being mere medium for bargaining for the improvement of the welfare of its members. We have when the need arises provided a platform for Nigerians to resist oppression and obnoxious policies of government. In doing this, our members have had to even pay the ultimate price. We would like to remind these visionless politicians that the Nigerian workers were massacred at Iva Valley Coal mines, bulleted at Burutu, bludgeoned and buffeted in many other parts of the country as they fought for the untrammelled freedom and prosperity of their fatherland. May we also remind the “Distinguished Senator” that without the exemplary leadership and unparalled tenacity of purpose of Chief Milton Dabibi , Chief Frank Kokori and many other great union leaders in the face of intimidating circumstances and unrestrained exhibition of awesome instruments of terror during the dark days of Military dictatorship the present democracy, for which Sen. Lokpobiri is now a major beneficiary ,may not have come when it came, or might even have eluded us entirely!
We would also like to educate the Senator and his cohorts that the law they sought to amend is the wrong one. The appropriate legislation dealing with strikes and other forms of industrial action or disputes is the Trade Disputes Act (Cap T8 LFN, 2004) and not the Trade Union Act. May we also inform him that his proposed amendment would actually achieve the opposite of what he and his cohorts intend to achieve- ensure that workers are denied the right to strike. This is because if a strike is called through balloting by all members, it would only be suspended through balloting by all members. This would definitely lead to protracted industrial actions and perhaps revolution.
We would also like to inform Senator Lokpobiri that as MacFarlane puts it, “The right to strike is a keystone of modern industrial society. No society which lacks that right can be democratic. Any society which seeks to become democratic must secure that right”. Moreover given Nigeria’s leadership of role in Africa it must uphold global standards in the protection of the rights, welfare and security of her citizens.
It is therefore very unfortunate that when the country is grappling with corruption, poverty, unemployment and insecurity, that “Distinguished” Senator Lokpobiri and his friends are more concerned about annihilating the Nigerian Labour Movement and the Nigerian People. We however take solace in the commendable responses of Distinguished Senators like Senator Uche Chukwumerije and his distinguished friends who saw the devilish aims of the Lokpobiri group against the Nigerian people and resisted the bill in its entirety.
We call on Nigerian people to resist any anti-people and anti-labour policies of this government while we assure them that the Trade Union Movement in Nigeria will continue in our tradition of fighting not only for our members but for all Nigerians.
For: TRADE UNION CONGRESS OF NIGERIA (TUC)
Chika Onuegbu (State Chairman)