Nigerian workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC yesterday threatened to embark on indefinite strike if the incoming President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s administration failed to embark on policies that would address the welfare of workers from May 29, as demanded by the congress.
labour-dayHigh point of the demand of the workers during this year’s Workers Day celebration includes the sanitisation of the Nigeria’s labour market to ensure better conditions for workers.
The workers through their various representatives unanimously observed that there was an urgent need for the incoming administration to ensure better conditions for workers stressing that the expectations are very high because Nigerian workers have been at the mercy of bad governance with many unfriendly policies being implemented by both the federal and state governments.
Furthermore, the umbrella body of 43 industrial unions in Nigeria highlighted social issues, insecurity, political and economic issues, minimum wage, job creation, petroleum subsidy, provision of critical developmental infrastructure and casualisation and outsourcing of jobs and services as the areas that need urgent attention by the incoming Buhari administration.
Delivering his workers’ day speech at a mega rally at Eagle Square Abuja yesterday, NLC National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, identified the above-mentioned areas as critical to harmonious working relationship with the incoming administration.
However, in Plateau, the NLC has directed all its affiliate unions and workers to commence mobilisation for a strike at the expiration of its ultimatum to the state government on several issues bordering on workers welfare.
The state chairman, Comrade Jibrin Bancir said that labour had negotiated for a long time with the state government for the peaceful resolution of their disputes but without success adding that “it is apparent that we must take the last action so that we will not continually be subjected to slavery by the government of Dr Jonah Jang.”
He listed some of the issues to include outstanding arrears of minimum wage, non-release of promotion of staff and consistent non-payment of salaries.
Others are the non-implementation of the minimum wage by local governments and primary school employers, non-payment of the outstanding 2012 leave and transport grant as well as non-payment of gratuity and pension to retirees.
Also the civil society groups in Nigeria have called for better conditions of service for Nigerian workers to reduce hardships they had faced over the years.
Speaking on the plight of Nigerian workers, the Lagos State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, Mr. Ehi Omokhuale said that there was the need for the incoming administration to ensure better conditions for workers.
“The incoming administration should make the minimum wage a State Policy and ensure that all states implement it,” Omokuale said adding that there was no reason for any state not to pay the minimum wage.
“There is the need for governments to reduce political offices and its unnecessary attachments to make sure workers are well taken care of,” he added.
In his own speech, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, blamed the plight of Nigerian workers on the nation’s nose-diving economy stressing that the incoming government as a matter of priority should declare economic emergency in order to remove unnecessary and irrelevant projects affecting wages in the country.
Meanwhile, the FCT Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed has assured Nigerian workers resident in Abuja of government’s commitment to their welfare.
Speaking at the Workers’ Day celebration in Abuja, Mohammed said that the FCT Administration appreciated workers’ contribution to nation building and was determined to make life more comfortable for them.
“The May Day is celebrated all over the world and this underscores the importance of the worker to nation-building, here in FCT, we have initiated several programmes in housing, transportation and other welfare initiatives to make our worker population comfortable’’, he added.
In Borno State, the NLC Chairman, Mr. Titus Abana said that in spite of the security challenges in the state, members of the union decided to join their counterparts in other states to celebrate the day.
He urged Gov Kashim Shettima to focus on workers’ demands which include full implementation of the minimum wage for local government staff and primary school teachers saying “we also want you to pay outstanding 10 per cent and 30 per cent CONHESS for health and animal health workers in the state and local governments respect
Also the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Oyo State has appealed to the state government to ensure prompt payment of the three months’ salaries owed workers in the state.
The Chairman of the NLC in the state, Mr. Waheed Olajede who made the appeal in Ibadan at the 2015 Workers Day celebration held at Lekan Salami Stadium yesterday said that the new labour executive was ready to collaborate with the state government to move the state forward.
“We will engage government in a round-table aimed at resolving the worker’s salary arrears issue because a happy worker is he or she that produces,” he said and urged Nigerians to accept the struggle of building the nation as a collective project, saying this is a joint responsibility of all stakeholders.
Concluding his speech, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the labour body is ready to work and engage the President-elect and the incoming government in defining a new agenda for Nigeria to evolve policies that are people-oriented for sustainable development.
“Though it requires a platform for such engagement, but under the previous administration (late Yar’Adua) there was a framework for tripartite partners for robust dialogue on major policy issues of concern to workers. This approach we recommend for the incoming administration to apply,” he advised.
The NLC President said that the congress would eternally remain indebted to President Goodluck Jonathan for his immense contributions to the welfare of workers, mass housing and transport programmes from which some members benefitted and pleaded for waiver in respect of the loan given by the Federal Government to the NLC and TUC to run their mass transit programmes.


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