By Michael Oche
Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union federation, has condemned the assault on Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other trade union leaders by men of the Nigerian police during a protest by workers in Imo state.
Ajaero was assaulted by men of the Imo state police command while leading a demonstration over the violation of the rights of workers by the government of Imo state.
In a statement from its Lomé office, Sani Baba Mohammed, PSI Regional Secretary for Africa and Arab Countries, said what was witnessed in Imo state is in violation of ILO conventions on workers’ rights that include C98 on Freedom of Association and C87 on Right to Collective bargaining, both of which Nigeria has ratified.
The PSI which represents the interest of over 30 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 163 countries, said to ignore workers’ concerns and resort to violence and harassment not only affect provision of the essential public services in Imo state but Nigeria at large.
Baba said the PSI stands in solidarity with Comrade Ajaero and the whole Trade union movement of Nigeria in this struggle.
“We urge the government and its agencies to ensure the safety of Labour leaders and their members who were arrested and provision of medical access to all the injured workers that includes the NLC President, Joe Ajaero,” he said.
The PSI also urged the government to ensure that the rule of law prevails and protection of workers’ rights by bringing to book all those persons who were involved in unleashing violence and abduction of workers during the protest.
It stated further that “The government must also speed up the process of engaging in dialogue with these workers that makes our economies run even in turbulent times, as was witnessed during the period of Covid-19.
“We remind the Government that Nigeria is a signatory to fundamental ILO conventions on workers’ rights that include C98 on Freedom of Association and C87 on Right to Collective bargaining since 1960. These two fundamental workers’ rights ratified by the Government of Nigeria guarantees freedom of association and right to collective bargaining including withdrawal of labour and strike without interference by the government or its agencies.
“What was witnessed in IMO state is not only a violation of these two fundamental rights but also a violation of human rights that includes freedom of expression and rights to assembly.”