…Says union have been marginalised for long
Disturbed over the constant neglect suffered within the labour sector, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), has appealed to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, to urgently intervene as well as address several issues bothering the union as it is capable of snowballing into and industrial crisis.
The President, NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, made the appeal when he led the leadership of the union on a courtesy visit to the Ministers of Labour and Employment.
Listing a number of issues, Khaleel complained that his union lacks any negotiating machinery, as it didn’t belong to any Council. He also lamented the non-implementation of their scheme of service in some states, which according to him had led to its members’ services terminating at GL 14 or 15.
“The major challenge of our union include, absence of negotiation machinery in NULGE. Our union, as strategic as it is, we belong to none of the existing negotiation councils in the Joint Public Sector Negotiation Council.
We feel that is segregation and we believe it will be more inclusive if your good office will look at how we can be accommodated either in one of the existing councils or our own be created base on the Shonekan’s committee recommendations.
“We believe we are having a lot of gaps in terms of our role of engagement with the government and our employers and this is very good machinery that we are praying and agitating that we will get it under your leadership.
“Another issue is the non-implementation of our scheme of service in some states thereby leading to termination of service at grade 14 or 15.
“This scheme of service came into being in 2006, but to our greatest dismay, up till now some states like Kano, Zamfara, Gombe and Sokoto are yet to implement it.
We feel that Nigeria has gone beyond this, and this is a great injustice to our members. We believe that honourable ministers have the capacity to address these issues by drawing the attention of the state governments to do the needful.
“There was also a process that was halted as a result of a court case on the new or improved scheme of service at the local government level which was done around 2016, up till now the document is lying at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), but with a new ministry created for inter-governmental affairs, that schedule is now shifted to the ministry.
“So, we believe this is one of the core labour issues that need to be addressed and tackled by this ministry before it becomes a dispute.” Khaleel said
Speaking further, he drew the attention of the ministers to the issue of jurisdiction encroachment on their membership by some other unions, particularly the unions that exist in local education departments.
He said, “By jurisdiction, they’re supposed to be our members, but some unions like the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are struggling to encroach in some states. They don’t have jurisdiction whatsoever to unionise workers at the local government level.”
Responding to the concerns raised, Ngige gave the assurance that before the end of 2019, the issue negotiating machinery will be settled.
“It is an omission that the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council does not exist in local government tier of government.
I think it a big omission that does not make for industrial relations stability. Therefore we will address that and in addressing it, we have to make it an item in our first National Labour Advisory Council meeting to take a decision that will be communicated to all the states.”
He also promised to address the issue of jurisdictional scope taking into cognisance, Section 40 of the constitution which gives people latitude to form union and associate with whoever they want.
The Minister also urged NSITF to organise workshops to orientate Local Government employers on the workings of the Employee Compensation Act and the benefits workers are entitled to, as well as the general mandate of the Fund.
Ngige reminded NULGE to see to the proper enforcement of the provisions of the Employers Compensation Act (ECA) in all the tiers of government, as “the ECA protects workers and gives them better welfare.
Workers are entitled to compensations under the Act for injuries, disabilities and even death sustained in the course of work”.