A faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress led by Joseph Ajaero has disrupted the Annual General Meeting of the employers group, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association.
Members of the labour faction stormed NECA’s yearly meeting carrying placards and sang solidarity songs on Friday.
In conjunction with the members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, they used a fuel tanker and vehicles to barricade the entrance of the NECA office in Alausa, Ikeja, preventing the guests and visitors from accessing the building and holding the AGM.
They called the NECA Director General, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo, to desist from victimising workers through his support for massive sacking in the private sector.
Speaking on his grouse, Ajaero said the picketing was not done to harm anyone, but rather a protest against comments made by NECA DG in June, accusing his faction of running an illegal parallel congress, as well as labelling the group as “rouge union.”
“We are here on a courtesy visit to NECA if you go through the news in the last few weeks, where he described us as rogues and called on the Inspector General of Police to arrest us; where he called the NIC to give judgement against us and where he said that there is authentic NLC and we know that this matter is in court,” Ajaero said.
He continued, “These issues, if they are within his competence to decide, then he has acted well, but if it is not, we have come here to seek for explanation. We want to know what we stole to make us rogues and we want to equally find out whether he is talking as Oshinowo, a respectable Nigerian or as DG of NECA.”
Meanwhile, during the protest, which lasted for about two hours, hoodlums came to attack protesters and The PUNCH photojournalist, Sodiq Adelakun, was brutalised in the presence of policemen and Department of State Services operatives.
While addressing the press at the end of the picketing, Oshinowo condemned the threat to lives and property by the labour group as well as the hoodlums in the presence of law enforcement agents and security operatives.
However, Oshinowo said that the picketing was a breach of the right of employers and Nigerian law and urged security officials to arrest and charge the group for criminality.
He added that it showed that industrial relations practices and industrial harmony had been turned into disorderliness and the dispensation of lawlessness.
Oshinowo affirmed that NECA’s voice would not be silenced by intimidation and rule of the jungle, adding that the association would always respect and stand on the side of principles and rules of law in its engagement with the social partners.
Speaking at the press conference, the Zonal Director, (South West), Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs. Ifeoma Igweze-Anyanwutaku, condemned the act, saying Ajaero had taken laws into his hands by picketing the employers group.
She urged the warring labour groups to put their house in order in the interest of the workers.