The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has dragged the Kaduna State Government to the National Industrial Court over its restructuring and staffing order, which, according to the union, is targeted toward the planned sack of almost half of local government workers.
The union is challenging the Kaduna State Local Government Councils (Restructuring and Staffing Order) tagged KDSLN 2017, which sets out the maximum staffing level for all local government.
The Restructuring and Staffing Order, also provides that workers in local governments that have employees in excess of the maximum staffing level be declared redundant.
In the suit, filed by NULGE counsel, Mr Femi Aborisade, a copy of which was made available to Nigerian Tribune, NULGE argued that the governor lacked the power to enact such law.
Joined as defendants in the summon are the Kaduna State governor, the speaker, Kaduna State House of Assembly, the Kaduna State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Kaduna State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Kaduna State Local Government Service Commission and Head of Service, Kaduna State.
The union argued that Section 5(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended only vests the governor with the powers to execute any law made by the State House of Assembly “directly or through the deputy governor and commissioners of the government of that state or officers in public service of the state.”
To this end, it sought the Court to declare the Kaduna State Local Government Councils (Restructuring and Staffing Order) tagged KDSLN 2017 unconstitutional
Part of the reliefs sought by the Union reads, “a declaration that the 1st Defendant, being a civilian governor of Kaduna State, under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, lacks legislative powers and that the power of the 1st defendant are limited to maintaining the Constitution and executing only the provisions of the law made by the state House of Assembly of Kaduna State.’’
“An order setting aside the Kaduna State Local Government Councils (Restructuring and Staffing Order) tagged KDSLN 2017, dated 15th October 2017, on grounds of its unconstitutionality. “NULGE has also written to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige to declare a Trade Dispute between the Union and the Kaduna State Government
The letter, also signed by Femi Aborisade on behalf of the union, stated that 4, 410 local government employees across the 23 local government areas in Kaduna are set to be declared redundant by the new order of the state government.
While decrying the development, NULGE stated that the numerical strength of local government employees would be reduced by 41 per cent , from 10, 762 to 6, 352.
The letter reads in part: “The main issue in dispute is the declaration of 4,410 members of our client redundant without any just cause and without any consultation with our client.”
The union said despite a letter of protest written to the state governor, Mallam Nasir El-rufai by the union, the governor refused to act and refused to grant audience to the union leadership to discuss the constitutionality of the executive order.
It said the action of the governor contravenes the Kaduna State Public Service Rule (2005) which governs the employment relationship between workers and the state government.
It stated, “by the Kaduna State Public Service Rule (2005), once confirmed in the pensionable establishment, the employment of employees can only be determined by resignation (Rule 02804); or by retirement (Rule 02809) or by dismissal for serious misconduct (Rule 04406). The procedure and reason outlined in the Kaduna state local Government Councils (Restructuring and Staffing Order) tagged K.D.S.L.N. 2017, for throwing the jobs of over 4000 employees into the unemployment market are unknown yo the Kaduna State Public Service Rule (2005)”
According to NULGE, besides, under international labour practice which has been incorporated into the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where the employer contemplates termination for reasons of an economic, technological, structural or similar nature, the employer is mandatorily required to justify such measures by consulting and discussing with the workers representatives, the trade unions.
It, however, regretted that in this case, no such consultation took place.