Following the inability of the building and civil engineering contractors to meet the demands of its workers, the Union of Civil Engineering, Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) has commenced an indefinite strike.
The union claim that workers were called out over the failure of their employers to implement the agreements signed by the two parties some months ago.
The construction workers union also alleged that Nigerians had suffered a lot of unwarranted retrenchment in the industry, adding that, among others, a construction company that used to have up to 18, 000 workers is left with fewer than 8, 000 workers.
Asugwuni also alleged that upon the huge pressure mounted on the workers, they were still not getting any remuneration or allowance that justifies their service.
The union’s National President, Comrade Amechi Asugwuni, who briefed the media, criticised the employers – the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI), stating that a document known as National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC), contains the terms and conditions of service for junior employees, which must be reviewed every two years.
“The document was due for review last year, when the FOCI, in letter signed by its Director General, Olubunmi Adekoya which dated September 1, 2010 with reference number: FED/NUCECFWW/2015/OA/SAO, had requested the construction employees through their union to submit proposal for the review of the document,” he said.
The letter, made available to reporters, read in part: “As you are aware, the current NJIC Agreement is due to expire soon. We hereby request that you submit your proposal for 2015 Negotiation so that we can plan accordingly.”
Asugwuni alleged that having submitted the proposal as requested, FOCI started twisting the rules of the game, claiming that it was not ready for any negotiation.
“Their recalcitrant actions have prompted this strike and unless they are ready to go back to the negotiation table, the strike continues. It is either NJIC or nothing. This, we are saying, is sacrosanct,” he said.
“Embarking on this nationwide strike did not just happen, it is as a result of failure on the part of our employers to sustain dialogue which is the most required and viable option for every Negotiation.
“Various meetings were initiated by this union but they had never got the time to sit with us and dialogue with us, even as they are the one expected to initiative such meetings for dialogue. It appears they have something to achieve from doing this but for us, no going back on the decision until they are ready to come to terms,” he said.
While urging the Ministry of Works to engage in resolving the controversy, he expressed concern over recurring building collapse in the country, saying that the government still has much to do in the areas of awarding contracts and supervising them.
“Many of the collapse buildings were constructed by those who are not our members; those bridges and buildings constructed by our members more than a hundred years ago are still there strong and reliable. There is need to award major contract to our members who are Nigerians, because we understand the implications of whatever the work that we on the country,” he said.