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Rights group tackles Lagos Assembly over anti-strike bill

Lagos state house of assemly21 February 2014, Sweetxrude, Lagos – WORKERS rights activists, under the aegis of Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights, CDWR, have rejected a Bill before the Lagos State House of Assembly seeking to criminalise workers’ strike in the state.

The group expressed shock over the bill and called on workers, trade unions and all well meaning Nigerians to resist what it describes as “obnoxious, anti workers bill whose main objective is to sentence workers to slavery and penury by unleashing the culture of fear and silence in the face of atrocities committed by employers of labour including governments.”

In a petition to the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, LSHA, Hon Adeyemi Kuforiji and copied Governor Babatunde Fashola among others, Chairman of CDWR, Comrade Rufus Olusesan, insisted that workers’ strike was legitimate worldwide as an acceptable weapon of fighting back when rights and interest of workers are undermined among others.

According to the petition, “CDWR wishes to react to a Bill before the Lagos State House of Assembly which seeks to criminalise labour strike in the state. The bill according to media reports and as explained by the Leader of the House, Mr. Ajibayo Adeyeye, is to “make strike an offence for any group of workers in the state to embark on industrial actions or take part in any of such strike actions declared by unions in the state. This is tragic and quite laughable that a House of Assembly in a civil rule could ever contemplate such a bill in the first instance when its mandates include expanding the vista of democratic rights of citizens as well as workers of which protests and strikes are features of their legitimate expressions of fundamental human rights.”

“For further enlightenment of the House and the executive arm of the Lagos State government, we wish to emphasize that labour strike is legitimate worldwide as an acceptable weapon of fighting back when rights and interest of workers are undermined and all other meaningful approaches have failed. And it is not within the purview of any legislature no matter how disillusioned with its exaggerated power to criminalise strike or industrial actions. Rather than arrogate the power of life and death to itself which this anti-workers bill represents, the House should know that it is the anti-labour programmes, policies and actions of government and other employers of labour that make strikes inevitable. Therefore what the House should criminalize is not labour strikes but the anti-labour actions of government and other employers of labour.”

“We would like you to note that this bill is another evidence of the anti-working people character and policies of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) which have made it indistinguishable from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) it craves to replace in power at the federal level. We shall call on all workers and trade unions to resist this obnoxious, anti workers bill whose main objective is to sentence workers to slavery and penury by unleashing the culture of fear and silence in the face of atrocities committed by employers of labour including governments.”

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