NLC, protesting workers ground activities at NIPOST

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the National Union of Post and Telecommunication Employees on Wednesday shut down the operations of the Nigerian Postal Services in Abuja.

Hundreds of aggrieved members of NUPTE and officials of the NLC, led by the Congress’ President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, stormed the headquarters of NIPOST to protest an alleged decision of the management (of NIPOST) to compel Level 07 members of staff, numbering over 4,000, to join the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations, contrary to their wish.

Addressing the protesting workers, Wabba said that the NIPOST management wrote the Accountant General’s Office to send check-off dues deducted from Level 07 officials of the organisation who have been in NUPTE for over 30 years to the SSACTAC.

He said the NIPOST management violated the rights of workers to belong to unions of their choice.

The NLC President also denied a claim by SSACTAC that the matter was before the court and that a prevailing court order had been issued to restrain the NLC from further action.

“Section 40 of our Constitution says there is freedom of association. These workers have been members of NUPTE for over 30 years. Overnight, the management transferred them to SSACTAC. Is that law? Freedom of association means workers should decide which union they want to belong; it is not at the whim and caprices of the management.

“The management wrote a letter to the Office of the Accountant General, ceding those members to SSACTAC. They have belonged to NUPTE for over 30 years. These are of our grievances.

“ILO Convention says the workers have a right to the freedom of association. They belong to a union; you must seek their consent. The workers here are protesting because they have ceded them to another union so as to undermine their interest.

“Well, we have not been served. I have not seen any court injunction. That is why we are here. We are respecters of the law. Once we are served and put on notice, we would abide by the law. Nobody told us about any court order.

“Over 4,000 workers were ceded to another union. They belong to NUPTE before now. That is the reason for this picketing.”

NUPTE is one of the 43 affiliate unions of the NLC.

However, the President of SSACTAC told journalists that the affected NUPTE members were members of SSACTAC who were on loan to NUPTE to beef up its finances.

He said that the matter was being resolved within NIPOST. However, he said he was surprised at the action of the NLC.

In his comments on the issue, the President of NUPTE, Sunday Alhassan, said that the NIPOST management took an arbitrary decision to compel the workers to join another union and went ahead to pay their check-off dues to that union.

He said that NUPTE had called on the NIPOST management to reverse the decision before the action to picket the office on Wednesday.

He said that if the decision was not reversed, NUPTE would be compelled to shut down NIPOST operations nationwide.

The NIPOST Postmaster General, Alhaji Mori Baba, was not available to address the protesting workers.

The Deputy Postmaster General, Human Resources, Mr. Chabiri Ndahi, told the labour leaders and workers that the Postmaster General stayed away from the office during the protest because of concerns over his personal security.

The workers, who turned up at the NIPOST headquarters as early as 7am, carried placards which read, ‘Remit our check-off dues to NUPTE’, ‘NUPTE is my union’, ‘It is the exclusive right of NIPOST workers to chose the union they wish to belong’, ‘Postmaster General is violating our right to association’, ‘Anti-labour policies against NUPTE in NIPOST now’, among others.

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