The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU), representing the working people of Somalia, is shocked and angry to learn of the recent violence inflicted upon innocent workers in Kaduna State, Nigeria, which was ordained and directed by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Nasir El-Rufai.
We stand in total and express unwavering solidarity with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on its stance to continue against workers’ oppression, intimidation and exploitation. We see these despicable actions as attempts to weaken the strong and vibrant movement that remains the Nigerian labour movement.
These violent, state-sanctioned actions spell a flagrant disregard for the international and Nigerian labour laws that permitted NLC’s industrial actions planned for 16 May 2021. We support NLC’s action and anger over the obvious lack of consideration for workers, including the government’s decision to unilaterally dismiss 7,000 workers. We particularly applaud NLC for its unwavering determination to represent the working class and poor even in such conditions.
FESTU, along with many other unions and union organisations in Africa and across the world, has noted with concern, the systematic oppression of peacefully protesting workers in Kaduna State. This goes against everything that labour movement has ever fought for and we join the chorus by trade unions that these actions by the Kaduna State Government must cease and cease now.
The NLC’s peaceful protest should have been a clear demonstration to the Kaduna State Government that workers’ rights are indivisible, that workers are not dispensable and will no longer be exploited at the hands of a cruel and uncaring state regime. Yet, the protest became the site of unspeakable violence and intimidation, with hoodlums planted to instigate conflict and fear.
FESTU joins in the calls for strong condemnation of the Kaduna government, in particular, the Governor, Mr El-Rufai. These actions are not going to abate on their own, especially as we anticipate that NLC, will, rightly, increase and maintain the pressure and calls for the upholding and championing of workers’ rights.
We have no doubts that the spirit of the Nigerian workers will prevail and their voices and demands will be heard all over the globe. However, we do fear for our working brothers and sisters in Kaduna State and any state-sanctioned backlash. We call on the Kaduna State government to listen to the concerns of workers and opt for peaceful and constructive means to address the burning issues at hand.
FESTU supports the decision by The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) to report the situation to the 2021 International Labour Conference (ILC). Greater accountability, solidarity and collective stances in the face of labour rights violations in Kaduna State is central for change.
Issued by: Omar Faruk Osman, FESTU General Secretary