The industrial crisis between workers and Kaduna state government enters day-three today.
The workers, backed by the Nigeria Labour Congress and other unions have commenced protests across Kaduna state on Monday, paralysing all government activities as well as shutting down public utilities, including the airport, train station, electricity, water and other essential facilities.
On Tuesday during the protests, hoodlums, allegedly hired by Governor Nasir El-Rufai attacked the protesting workers, injuring many of them. The hoodlums were seen in multiple videos throwing stones, bottles and other dangerous weapons on the protesters while some police personnel were seen providing security cover for the hoodlums while also firing cannisters of teargas on protesters.
Also on Tuesday, Governor El-Rufai announced that the President of NLC and other labour leaders who were in Kaduna for the protests have been declared wanted for economic sabotage. He said for shutting down public utilities, the labour leaders would be arrested anytime and anywhere they are seen.
But the Deputy President of the NLC, Mr Ameachi Asugwuni said El-Rufai’s threat of arrest and mobilization of hoodlums cannot stop the protests as they would continue today, Wednesday. He stated this while reacting to attacks by thugs on peaceful protesters.
Asugwuni alleged that the attack was to distract protesters from their legitimate rights of actions toward bringing the government to order.
He said- “The thugs used weapons and threw stones on our peaceful protesters, as I speak to you now, we have taken some of them for treatment resulting from serious injuries.
In his reaction also, one of the protesters, Daniel John described the development as “very unfortunate”, adding that they were forced to suspend the peaceful procession for the day.
“We were at NEPA roundabout and about to be addressed by our chairman, when the heavily armed thugs in their numbers arrived and began to wield knives and sticks while others throw stones at us,” he said.
He said further- “We were lucky security personnel were with us, who engaged the thugs and manage to disperse them and arrest some of them.”
The NLC Chairman in the state, Mr Ayuba Suleiman had earlier said that the labour unions were committed to the principle of dialogue and social bargaining for the benefit of disengaged workers in the state.
He also alerted the general public to watch out for thugs who were allegedly recruited to disrupt the peace in order to blame the labour unions.
African Community News had on Sunday reported that Airports and train stations were being targeted for total shutdown as electricity and airport workers declare industrial action, vowing to cripple activities in Kaduna state.
We also stated that the strike, which had the blessings of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) involves the Aviation unions – the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
The NLC had declared the industrial action to protest what it called the anti-labour policies of the Kaduna State Government, especially the mass sack of workers. Many trade unions also pledged their resolve to join the strike.
Among those participating in the protests are Nigerian Union of Railway Workers (NUR), the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), which had issued separate notices to join the one-week strike.
While the aviation unions vowed to shut down the airport, the NUR also said it would shut down the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service (AKTS).