AUPCTRE, CSO allies want Lagos govt to rescind sack of water corporation workers

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A coalition of organisations – The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI) and the Joint Action Front (JAF) have taken a swipe at the Lagos State Government for what they alleged is the unlawful sack of 391 workers of the Lagos State Water Corporation (LWC).

The groups made the call today (Monday 6 May 2024) during a press briefing where they alleged that the disengaged workers of the corporation are being treated as scapegoat for the alleged corrupt practices of government handpicked management of the LWC, past and present.

Comrade Benjamin Anthony, National President of AUPCTRE

Interventions at the briefing came from National President of AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, AUPCTRE Lagos State Secretary Comrade Abiodun Bakare, RDI Executive Director, Comrade Philip Jakpor, and Achike Chude of the Joint Action Front (JAF).

The group absolved the disengaged workers from any blame on the decline in water provision and services in Lagos but insisted that the state government should conduct a probe into the mismanagement of funds by successive management of the corporation appointed by the same government.

In a statement issued to the media at the end of the briefing, the groups listed quantum sums that were allocated to the Corporation by the Lagos State Government for contracts that were not carried out or shoddily done. They include:

  • N4 billion for construction of Otta-Ikosi waterworks in 2007 which is still not working.
  • N3 billion expended on the construction of an Independent Power Plant (IPP) which also included an additional N180 million expended monthly on fueling in 2010
  • N897m released by the Lagos State government for rehabilitation of Iju and Adiyan Waterworks in 2018 and another N789m released for rehabilitation of mini and micro waterworks across Lagos same year.
  • A whopping N2.7bn voted by the Lagos State Government and expended on the rehabilitation of Ishasi waterworks supervised by Mr. Governor with no result
  • The budget for purchase of chemical for year 2023 was N950 million yet there was nothing to show in terms of water production that year.
  • The sum of N315 million was paid as 50% advanced payment to contractor for the supply of liquid alum in October 2023 which is yet to be supplied.
  • The budget for chemical in 2024 is N1.2 billion yet no production of water since the beginning of the year
  • The Lagos government released N9.5 million for repair of chemical store gate at Iju and Adiyan
  • Similarly the construction of falling fence at Apapa waterworks was put at N7.3 million.

Comrade Anthony who read the statement explained that on 15 April 2024 staff of the LWC who had carried on their duties strenuously and legitimately despite unpleasant work conditions resumed in the office only to receive sack letters from the Engr. Tijani Mukhtar-led management on the allegations that they were redundant.  Before the latest disengagement exercise, in November 2023 about 450 contract workers engaged by the former management to complement the work of the permanent staffers were also booted out unceremoniously.

He insisted that the current sack breached Section 20 of the Labour Law which explicitly requires an employer to notify the trade union or workers’ representative of the reasons for and the extent of redundancy before terminating the employment of its staff on account of redundancy.

Abiodun Bakare, Secretary, Lagos Chapter of AUPCRE

Echoing his views, Abiodun Bakare, Secretary, Lagos Chapter of AUPCRE said that workers in the corporation had sought all legal approaches to ensuring that the management of the Engr. Tijani Muktar address the real issues plaguing the water corporation but soon realized that the new helmsman of the water utility was determined to toe the privatization path of his predecessors.

He added that plans to mobilize workers to resist the unjust sack were being kicked against by the management of the corporation which has resorted to using threats of arrest by security agents to discourage the mobilization efforts.

Philip Jakpor, Executive Director, RDI

Philip Jakpor, Executive Director of Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI) said: “We find it absurd and totally untenable that the illegally disengaged staff of the Lagos State Water Corporation will be used as scapegoat for the decline in water services in Lagos which should be laid solely on the doorsteps of successive management handpicked by the state government. There is no discussion on this. The staff should be recalled”

Achike Chude, JAF

Achike Chude of JAF maintained that the three organizations and their partners will engage in legitimate actions to press for the reinstatement of the sacked workers and a probe of the management of the Corporation.

The statement also included the demands of the three organisations which includes an unconditional reinstatement of all disengaged staff of the LWC, Probe of all the water contracts awarded in Lagos since 2007 as well as the blacklisting of identified contractors and recoup of all monies diverted. Others are halting the ongoing privatization plans of water in Lagos and termination of of all partnerships and collaborations that aim to foist water privatization in Lagos.

The groups said they will not back down on their actions until the staff are recalled and a probe instituted into the affairs of the management of the corporation.

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