The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE) has rejected a plan by the management of the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC), and the Lagos State Government to sack more workers at the LWC.
AUPCTRE said the plan came to light on Monday, December 18, 2023, during a meeting of the state leadership of the union with the LWC’s Managing Director (MD), Mr. Mukhtar Tijani.
The Union’s Secretary, Abiodun Bakare, who spoke on behalf of the Chairman, Mr. Ige Jenyo Olawale, at an emergency meeting of the workers in the water sector on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, in Lagos, disclosed that AUPCTRE had engaged the MD, following the sack of about 450 contract staff of the LWC.
“In his words, ‘The LWC branch of our union had earlier written to the MD on December 1, 2023, expressing how the dismissal and exclusionary actions, which the LWC management describes as a ‘restructuring and repositioning’ process, violate the ethics of workplace management. The letter also noted how many of these workers had spent their youthful years serving the corporation in hopes of permanent employment but have now been discarded without as much as a thought given to how they would survive under the current harsh economic realities. The union concluded by demanding that the management reconsider its decision with respect to the unfair and uncompensated dismissal of the said workers.'”
“In a meeting that was eventually held on December 18, 2023, the LWC MD, Mukhtar Tijani revealed that the sack of the over 400 contract staff was not the end of it, as a plan is underway to disengage more workers, while asking for the cooperation of the workers.”
Reacting to the LWC’s plan, AUPCTRE’s National Chairman, Benjamin Anthony said AUPCTRE stood solidly against the privatization agenda in Lagos state and at the national level knowing that the consequences would be dire for citizens if such an agenda was allowed. While berating the Lagos state government for threatening workers with more layoffs, he expressed displeasure in the manner with which the management of Lagos Water Corporation had “treated its workers without inclusion and dignity.”
Comrade Bakare, who had led the union’s delegation to the LWC MD stated emphatically, ‘we maintain that WATER IS LIFE! and access to potable water must be seen correctly as a basic right. People must not be denied access to water because they are poor”.
Speaking further, he blamed the LWC management and corrupt government officials for crippling the operations of the state’s water corporation by running it as a business entity, sacrificing public welfare at the altar of greed and profits. In this system, against the wishes of workers and union leadership, the LWC management and government officials continue to under-invest in workers, award water service-related contracts to their friends and cronies who, at best, do shoddy jobs and further ruin the system.
‘‘Rather than sacking poor workers in a bid to ‘reposition’ the system, the right course of action is for the Lagos State government to immediately stop the corrupt contracting system entrenched by capitalist interests. It should institute accountability measures against these corrupt practices, invest massively in its water infrastructure and human resources, and hire more workers, not as disposable casual labour but permanent employees. These actions will not only boost the performance of the corporation but ensure that every resident of Lagos State enjoy the right to access potable water,” He added.
AUPCTRE also seized the opportunity of the workers assemblage in Lagos to call on workers across sectors, civil society organizations and well-meaning Nigerians to join them in standing up against the oppression of workers of the Lagos Water Corporation, stating that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.