No fewer than 25 industrial unions on Saturday elected Joe Ajaero as president of a new labour union, United Labour Congress, ULC.The ULC is a breakaway faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and includes the influential oil workers union, NUPENG.
The unions elected Mr. Ajaero, the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, at the ULC maiden Delegates Conference in Lagos.
The new labour centre emerged after a two-year internal crisis that split the NLC.
Mr. Ajaero, who was elected unopposed, said that ULC would fight for the interest of workers and ensure a more equitable Nigeria where workers’ dignity and the work place would become less prone to impunity.
He said that the emergence of ULC would strengthen the labour movement and generate a new vigour that would re-awaken elements that would make workers strong.
”The new labour centre instead of weakening the movement will present labour as a creative partner that has strategic benefits for its publics, especially the employers and the government,” he said.
The ULC president said the new centre was aimed at restoring hope to Nigerian workers, the oppressed, the victimised, the neglected and other relegated members of the society.
He said that the movement was not contesting with anybody or faction, but would remain a labour centre of its own, adding that “the issue of faction is over.’’
Mr. Ajaero also said that the new congress was emerging because of the exigency of the moment where people work without salaries for months and were being denied their rights at their work places.
The President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Igwe Achese, was elected Deputy President.
Three Vice Presidents, Treasurer, Auditor and Financial Secretary among others were also elected to run the affairs of the centre.
Leaders of the new labour union said their first major outing would be against a leading airline in the country on Tuesday for alleged unfair labour practices, including seven months unpaid salaries to workers affiliated to ULC.
The affiliates of ULC include NUPENG, NUEE, Nigeria Union of Mine Workers, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Employees and the Nigeria Union of Rail Workers.
Others are the National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers.