ULC backs NUPENG, pokes Ministry of Labour sinister moves

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By Olanrewaju Adesanya

The United Labour Congress (ULC), has faulted the Ministry of Labour’s hurried demand for submission of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) audited report prior to the expiration of legally enshrined window open for compliance, alleging clear cut vilification of one of its strong affiliates.

ULC maintained that both the Ministry and NUPENG are social partners,so such aberration should not arise, citing earlier warnings and counsels that stakeholders in the Industrial Relations space should patiently stick to dictates, precepts and engagement guidelines, to forestall industrial unrest.

The ULC President Comrade Joe Ajaero raised fears of the
developments following the NSITF-Kokori saga, stating that things have rather falling apart due to that.

“We are worried that despite our earlier warnings on the need for all
stakeholders within the nation’s Industrial Relations space to
patiently stick to the dictates and precepts that guide engagement
amongst the social partners to avoid industrial unrest, actions and
utterances arising out of the NSITF – Kokori affair have rather been
bellicose and imperious.

“This is clearly against the principles of industrial harmony which
all parties must seek to uphold at all times.

Ajaero noted that the Federal Ministry of Labour’s demand communicated through its letter on 13th of May 2019 is vindictive and implies devious plot to hoodwink NUPENG.

“The letter of the 13th day of May 2019 in which the Federal Ministry
of Labour demanded that NUPENG should submit to it within 72 hours audited reports of its accounts for the years 2017 and 2018 especially at this time and manner is most unacceptable and unfortunate as it may be driven by sheer vindictiveness.

“The rules are very clear regarding such requests by the Ministry. The law provides for thirty clear days instead of the three days demanded by the operatives of the Ministry of Labour.

“When Laws are flagrantly disregarded by those who are supposed to be its custodian, it raises other questions. If the request was for the purposes of probity and standards in the industry, why resort to
impunity in pursuing it or perhaps, there is an indecent haste to
achieve a devious end?

“We strongly condemn this apparent scape goating of NUPENG. It is
selective and is designed to cow the union into submission.

This is a tool that we abhor and should not be encouraged within the nation’s Industrial relations arena where we ought to see the parties:
GOVERNMENT, EMPLOYERS & WORKERS as social partners.
“The Ministry’s request is illegal and runs counter to our traditions
and practice as industrial relations parties.

“Whatsoever may have been the provocations, we expect the federal
ministry of Labour to act on the side of caution and avoid creating
impressions that may suggest a witch-hunt and a deliberate attempt to intimidate the millions of workers who are members of NUPENG into silence.

“The deployment of actions that clearly run against the ethics of our
engagement should not be an option as we seek to resolve whatsoever grievances that may arise in our relations.

The labour also stated the resolve of ULC to tackle the issue
appropriately so as to avert the looming crisis.

“ULC cannot fold its arms and watch NUPENG; a very strong affiliate of it harassed by others over a matter that can be handled more
responsibly and amicably by all parties.
“To this end, we are exploring avenues to seek more sensible and
amicable resolution of all issues involved to avoid plunging this
nation into a disastrous industrial unrest with unimaginable
consequences.

“We urge for restraint on all sides as we seek avenues for peaceful
dialogue and resolution which is our considered duty as a responsible
Labour centre at this fragile times when our nation is under enormous
pressures from anti-democratic forces and tendencies.
“ This is the only way we can avoid playing into the hands of those
fanning the embers of crisis within the nation’s industrial space thus
allow sustainable harmony reign”. Ajearo submits.

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