Unions blame Umahi for massive sack of construction workers, threaten strike


Works Minister, Senator Umahi

By Angela Atabo

The Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA) and National Union of Civil Engineering Construction Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), have blamed disagreement between Minister of Works, Engineer Dave Umahi and contractors for mass sack of workers by contractors in the sector.

The National President of CCESSA, Ayodeji Adeyemo, and the NUCECFWW President Stephen Okoro, said this at a news conference on the state of the construction industry on Friday in Abuja, raised alarm over the plight of construction workers.

Adeyemo noted that though the construction industry is the second largest employer of labour in Nigeria after the Government, a lot of workers were being laid off by construction companies and the trend was creating a crisis in the sector.

He linked the massive lay off of workers to the disagreement between the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) and the Minister of Works.

According to him, there is a total slowdown in the industry due to disagreement between the contractors handling various civil construction projects for the Federal Government and the ministry of Works.

He said this was as a result of unilateral imposition of new standard conditions of contracts by the Minister, contrary to the existing conditions as approved by the Bureau of public procurement (BPP).

According to him, this has affected employment in the industry, leading to mass sack of Nigerian workers who are members of our unions.

Adeyemo said the unions have appealed to the Minister of Works, David Umahi, for a form of bail out to the distressed construction sector rather than any form of conflict.

“Over 30,000 workers have lost their jobs and about 52,000 workers may lose their jobs if care is not taken.

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“Over 20,000 have already lost their jobs in the last three months and 32,000 will also lose their jobs if the conflicts are not resolved.

“We may have no choice but to stop work on major roads if the trend continues.

“Some of the roads that are affected by the conflicts are roads being handled by major construction companies like RCC, Setraco, Julius Berger, Dantata and Sawoe, among others.

“They are: Obajana road, Abuja -Kano Road, Bodo-Bonny road, East-West road, Lagos-Ibadan express way, Zaria -Sokoto road and Edo-Auchi road.

“When you sack people with family and other dependents, you are only calling for more insecurity in the country. Nigeria is currently grappling with insecurity and you can imagine when 52,000 workers are laid off,” he fumed.

“We call on the federal government to resolve the conflict in the industry by involving all stakeholders in contract awards.

“These are the Bureau of Public procurement (BPP), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of works, Council for Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI), among others.

“We urge the Minister of Works, FOCI and all concerned to amicably resolve the current conflict within 21 days otherwise, the two Unions will be compelled to declare industrial actions in the construction industry.”

The two unions called for an end to banditry, kidnappings and killings that had become so common in the country, urging security agencies to ensure the safety of the members and all Nigerians. NAN)

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