The payment of all entitlements to the workers disengaged by the Kaduna State government formed the plank of recommendations from the 10-man Bipartite Committee that looked into the industrial dispute in the Northwest state.
The panel set up by the Federal Government to resolve the face-off between the Kaduna State government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) submitted its recommendation yesterday.
It 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.
Also recommended to be paid their due benefits are staff of the Kaduna State Development Company who were disengaged between 2017 and last year.
On July 10, the federal government inaugurated a 10-member committee to resolve the dispute between NLC and Kaduna State Government following the decision of the former to embark on a one-week warning strike.
The protest by the NCL was over alleged anti-Labour practices and the sack of its members by Governor Nasir El-Rufai-led administration.
The Committee, which was chaired by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Peter Tarfa, submitted its interim report yesterday to Labour and Employment Minister Dr Chris Ngige.
Tarfa said: “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 further stressed the need to bridge the communication gap between the government and union leaders, which the panel observed triggered strike.”
In terms of victimisation, tarfa said his committee recommended the re-issuance of letters to override all the queries answered by nurses, who participated in the strike.
The Labour minister said the dispute could have been worse but for federal intervention, recalling that there has been no love lost between the Kaduna government and the NLC since the sack of teachers in 2017.
Ngige said: “It is the same matter we are handling. It is crystallising. In that one, teachers without requisite qualifications 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 described the submission of the report as a new dawn and a very important landmark in the history of his ministry.
The minister said the need to halt the government/Labour crisis to prevent possible conflagration and spread into other Northwest states informed the federal intervention.
Ngige said: “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.”
Ngige thanked members of the committee, pointing out that it would have been made a bipartite committee of the state and the NLC, but the members decided to make permanent secretary their chairman.
The minister said: “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 them work and the employees and their leaders seeing what has been done, 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.”
NLC Deputy President and panel’s Co-Deputy Chairman Najeem Usman Yasin thanked Ngige and Tarfa, expressing the hope for the implementation of the recommendations.
Secretary to the Kaduna State Government Balarabe Abbas Lawal also thanked the minister for his intervention, reassuring that they came with the sole aim of finding lasting peace in the state.