From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday picketed the office of Trustfund Pensions Limited, in Abuja, over the recent layoff of 45 staff and casualisation of workers, among other unfair labour practices by the organisation.

As early as 7 am, protesting members of the NLC brocaded the Tetfund pensions office located at the Labour House, and prevented staff of the organisation access into the premises.

They carried placards bearing messages like #Stop casual and contract employment, pay fair wages; #union membership is a fundamental right (we have to join the union and #respect workers right to freedom of association and collective bargaining (RECOGNIZE THE UNION), among others.

Addressing journalists at the venue, Deputy General Secretary of NLC, Comrade Ismail Bello, said that the Union could no longer ignore the extent of labour standard violations being committed by the Trustfund.

Bello said the demonstration was necessary because the organisation’s management had failed to be cooperative in the area of dialogue.

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According to him, “Trust Fund is a Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) that takes care of pension investment of workers and it is also a PFA in which the NLC has a stake and so we believe that we can deal with all issues through a process of dialogue, but, unfortunately, the management of Trust Fund has not shown good faith when it comes to discussing labour issues.

“The immediate issue relates to the sack of 45 workers which we consider to be a redundant exercise, but the management considers it to be a routine management discretion.

“The other issues relate to casual and contract employment and unfair treatment of this category of workers both in terms of wages and their condition of employment. We have tried to go through a process of dialogue but the management of Trust Fund has not shown sufficient good faith and we think that for a business in which we have a stake, we expect the utmost level of labour standards and the least that Trust Fund can do is to ensure that the right of workers to belong to the union is respected because when you have a union in the workplace you have a social partner to dialogue with, you have a social partner to do collective bargaining with.

“A situation where management takes unilateral decisions on all issues, the tendency is to see the kind of things that we are seeing which is not too good for working people.

“So, as NLC, we can not close our eyes to this level of a labour standard violation being perpetrated under our noses. First, there must be respect for union rights, two those casual and contract workers must enjoy the best standard of employment whatever name they are called and also for the workers that have been made redundant, to ensure that if they are not recalled the best disengagement entitlements are paid to them.”