President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday in Abuja urged the Labour movement to use social dialogue and collective bargaining in realising the demands, goals and aspirations of Nigerian workers.
Jonathan made that call on the occasion of the 2015 May Day celebration with the Theme: “The Working Class, Democratic Consolidation and Economic Revival: Charting the Way to National Rebirth”.
Represented by Sen. Joel Ikenya, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the president said that a democratic environment accorded workers the right to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
“These rights are in addition to the implementation of the provisions of the International Labour Conventions ratified by Nigeria and aimed at the humanisation of work and enhancing the quality of work life.
“I would state that over these years, and particularly under the present administration, workers have been given a voice and the government has attended to the plight of workers.
“It is worthy to note that there is a new trend being advocated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity for a paradigm shift from adversarial to developmental industrial relations practice and trade unionism.
“I urge the labour movement to buy into this new mechanism of social dialogue and collective bargaining in realising their demands, goals and aspirations.
“This development will no doubt engender the spirit of patriotism, national consciousness, renewal, abiding natural justice and equity.
“It should be noted that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are expected to play prominent and positive roles in charting the way forward for the continued development and growth of Nigeria.”
The president further urged the trade unions to brace up to realities as no democracy would be consolidated, if the industrial relations atmosphere was in turmoil and riddled with incessant industrial actions.
He said that the theme for this year’s celebration was germane for a more positive engagement between government and Labour, “if we are to chart a positive way forward and reap the fruits of our consolidated democracy.
“I advocate the utilization by the social partners of laid down procedure for addressing grievances, especially the internally approved and established mechanism.
“This will breed goodwill and good faith in labour/management relations, ‘’he said
Meanwhile, Ms Sina Chuma-Mkandawire, the Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Gambia and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, congratulated Nigerian workers on the May Day celebration.
Chuma-Mkandawire urged Nigerian workers to abide by the four freedoms which constitute ILO’s global fundamental principles and rights to work.
She listed these principles as the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, freedom from discrimination in employment and occupation, freedom from forced labour, and freedom from child labour.
According to her, these four enabling rights, form the foundation for social progress and the realisation of social justice.
She said these principles were embodied in eight core ILO conventions which Nigeria had ratified.
“The prosperity and economic revival of many nations have, to a great extent, depended on the productive capacity and unifying strength of the workers.
“To ensure the prosperity of their nations, workers have in the past contributed positively in various ways.
“Nigerian workers work with the government to ensure a peaceful political environment, strong economic and technological capabilities, quality service delivery and policies which integrate economic and social goals,‘ ’she said. (NAN)