The Federal Government has inaugurated a 10-man committee to resolve the dispute between the Kaduna State government and the Nigeria Labour Congress and ensure industrial harmony in the state.
A statement issued by a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Charles Akpan, on Saturday in Abuja, said that the committee was inaugurated by Minister, Sen. Chris Ngige.
The committee was headed by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Peter-Yemira Tarfa.
Ngige named Secretary to Kaduna State Government, Balarabe Lawal; and Deputy National President, NLC, Najim Hashim; as Co-chairmen of the committee and Director, Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations, ministry of labour and employment, Mrs O. U. Akpan, as Secretary.
He urged members of the committee to meet the expectations of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) in ensuring that industrial peace returned to the state.
The minister recalled that the federal government had apprehended the strike initiated by NLC in the state in May, with parties signing a Memorandum of Understanding to restore peace.
He said that the intervening circumstances had made the reconstitution of the committee inevitable.
According to him, the committee is expected to resolve all the issues in dispute between the state government and NLC.
Ngige, who acknowledged that the issues in contention bordered essentially on trade disputes, gave the committee 21 days to submit its report.
He urged the committee to resolve the issues holistically and be guided by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as the country’s labour laws.
Ngige noted that downsizing or rightsizing of workforce in any organisation, government or private sector, was a redundancy issue, which must be subjected to the principles spelt out in the Trade Disputes Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004, Cap L1.
“The law says in Section 20(A) that: “in the event of redundancy, every employer shall inform the trade unions or representatives of workers concerned of the reasons for or the extent of their anticipated redundancy.
“Section 20(B) also says that the principles of ‘last-in, first-out’ shall be adopted in the discharge of the category of workers affected, subject to all factors of relative merit including skill, ability and any reliability.”
“So, in applying this, we must subject it to the relativity of merit, skill, ability and reliability. If somebody has a forged certificate, he should be asked to go because he didn’t merit the job in the first instance.
“If you go to a nursing home and find somebody working in the ward with a Bachelor’s degree in History, he stands disqualified because he doesn’t have the skill in the first place.
“He has to go. So, these are the qualifications that must be noted in this principle of last in, first out. It is not absolute. It has exceptions and qualifications,’’ he said.
Ngige added that an employer had the right to reduce staff strength of his organisation but he is bound by law to negotiate redundancy payment with any discharged worker.