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The recent sack off almost 200 workers by the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company (AUMTCO) management is unjust and must be resisted. The workers, including their leaders: Com, Wasiu Begbaji (Chairperson) Com. James Elemo (Secretary) and the Com Godwin Eleme (Treasurer) played active roles in a 2-month strike demanding the payment of six months salaries owed employees.

The strike drew the attention of the minister of FCT, Alhaji Adamu Bello, leading to release of funds for the company to effect payment of the outstanding salaries. While just 4 months wages were paid out of the 6 outstanding to the workers, management staff paid themselves their complete 6 months outstanding salaries and allowances.

As if that was not enough, management wickedly decided to draw its pound of flesh. It terminated the fixed-term contracts of employment of over 200 workers in the company on November 3, 2016, supposedly because their services were no longer required. But actually this was “punishment” for their embarking on industrial action.

On December 5, the FCT chapter of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) issued a 7-day ultimatum for the reinstatement of all the workers.

It rejected the argument of the company that the workers are “casual staff”. Many of them had worked for several years on renewal 6-month contracts. This is contrary to the labour law which stipulates that workers should be given permanent employment after a 6-month contract. But of course, the laws are strictly followed only when these are explicitly against workers, even by government agencies!

In an attempt to play the divide and rule card, management recalled just 20 of the affected workers. It insists that it no longer requires the services of the rest. To buttress this fabricated claim, the FCT Administration has withdrawn some of the buses from the company from the AUTMCO fleet. It is not bothered by the adverse impact of this on commuting for thousands of workers in Abuja who find

Socialist Workers League stood by AUTMCO workers throughout the strike. We will stand with them in the struggle for their full reinstatements. This is equally a struggle against casualization. We call for the reinstatement and regularization of employment.

We call on NLC to join the AUPCTRE in mobilizing mass actions for the workers’ reinstatement. We also urge other unions and activists to protest this injustice by emailing, sending text messages and calling the AUTMCO management. Email: enquiries@aumtco.com, telephone: 09-6727705, 08060546472, 08078335369, 08098908759.

by Peter Adejobi