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TUC protests Lagos RTEAN proscription, property seizures

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…Calls for immediate release of seized vehicles, opening of trade union office

 

UFOMBA UZUEGBU

Members of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), came out en-masse yesterday and staged a peaceful protest on the streets of Lagos, against the take-over of motor parks by the Lagos State government.

The protest was also in connection with the State government’s continuous ban on the operations of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).

The protesters, comprising affiliate member unions of the Congress, mainly, ASSBIFI,ASCSN, PENGASSAN,SAEAC and civil society organizations converged at the

Ikeja round- about in the early hours of yesterday from where they proceeded to the Lagos State House of Assembly,where they were received by some law makers,led by Hon. Adedamola Kusunmu,Deputy Majority leader,representing Ikeja Constituency 2.

The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions and sang solidarity songs denouncing government’s alleged high- handedness in its bickerings with the union.

The inscriptions on some of the placards were; “Sanwo-Olu hands-off RTEAN/NURTW :Unions are not electoral bodies”, ” TUC/NLC support RTEAN and NURTW “, ” Sanwo-Olu beware, don’t cross picket lines “, ” Labour creates wealth “, ” Any government that rapes the Constitution has also lost its legitimacy “.

President of TUC,Comrade Festus Osifo,while addressing the mammoth crowd at the Lagos State House of Assembly, during the solidarity protest with RTEAN,said that the protest became necessary as the government has failed to yield to Court judgement and the request of the union on the matter.

Osifo stated that RTEAN was prescribed sometime last year and afterwards, the Lagos State government went ahead to seize all their equipment and took over their offices, including their vehicles and the Congress felt that this is not acceptable.

He disclosed that TUC employed all necessary tools of engagement, written letters and held meetings with the Lagos State government all to no avail.

Recall that RTEAN also went to Court and got a judgement from the National Industrial Court (NIC), which ruled that State governments have no powers to proscribe trade unions legally registered by the Federal government.

” Yet,Lagos State government has denied the union its right to operate.We know that trade unionism is not in the concurrent list and so, a State government does not have the power to proscribe a trade union.This is absolutely, the responsibility of the Federal government.

“We wrote a letter to the State government to open the office of RTEAN which they forcefully took over and release their vehicles, which were seized by government officials, but I can tell you that government is already using the vehicles”,Osifo said.

The TUC President alleged that the actions of the government amount to criminality and stealing.

” We wrote to them that what they did is not good but the government failed to yield to our request”,he added.

On government’s appeal against the matter,Osifo maintained that “as at today,they don’t have a Stay of execution from the Court”.

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