Nigerian Unions Mark 2014 Stop Precarious Work Campaign

TODAY as part of the activities in Nigeria to mark the World Day For Decent Work, a group of Private sector unions affiliated to Industriall Global Union Federation including National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, National Union of Chemical , Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non Metallic Product Employees, Petroleum and natural Gas Senior Staff Association and Chemical and Non Metallic Product Senior Staff Association working in collaboration with the broad organization of organized Private sector unions in Nigeria including ASSBIFIE, NUATE, NUFBTE, NUCECFWW, NUSDE, SEWUN, NUPTE and NUEE among others holds a press conference to highlight the programmes and activities planned by the trade unions to mark the decent work day in Nigeria and join IndustriALL’s global campaign to Stop Precarious Work. This event has the full support and backing of the Nigeria Labour Congress with the active participation of Congress’ anti casualisation committee with Comrade Ayuba Wabba as the Chairman.
October 7 is observed worldwide as decent work day. According to the ILO, Decent work involves opportunity for work that is productive. Decent work must guarantee minimum and living wages for the workers. Decent work also means work that is secured and done by free workers who are entitled to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining to protect their rights in the world of work. Decent work delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration.

But we all know that in this era of globalization and undue competition for profit workers worldwide continue to face hard times in the face of worsening conditions at work. Currently worldwide and in Nigeria too, Workers are exposed to worsening health and safety situations with increased cases of deaths and injuries at work. There is unacceptable increased demand for overtime work without corresponding reward. Workers are getting poorer because of poor remuneration. Jobs are no longer secured as employers opt for casual short term flexible employment as part of the strategies to save cost and boost profit. These developments informed the decision of IndustriALL Global union federation to use the occasion of the ILO’s decent work day to launch the Stop precarious work campaign

Industriall Global Union Federation represents 50 million workers in 141 Countries in the mining, energy, garment, electronics and other manufacturing sectors. The African Region council of IndustrALL has almost has about 2 million members. Its current Chairman is Comrade Issa Aremu, one of the Vice Presidents of the NLC and General Secretary of the Textile Workers a union of Nigeria. IndustrALL is a force in global solidarity leading the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world. At its founding congress in Copenhangen in 2012 Industriall affiliates resolved to support a global campaign to Stop Precarious Work which draws on existing platform of the decent work day as provided by the ILO.

In October 2013, five unions including National Union of Textile, Garment and tailoring Workers of Nigeria(NUTGTWN), Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas(NUPENG), National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non Metallic products Employee(NUCFRLANMPE),Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association(PENGASSAN) and Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association(CANMPSSAN) affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union Federation organized a rally around the Ikeja Industrial area. The unions picketed two companies-Durapack Limited and Majestic Sack Manufacturing company Limited in the process. The exercise freed the affected workers from wage slavery and led to the unionization of over 200 workers in Majestic Manufacturing. The process of ensuring that the workers of Durapack Limited have a right to join the union is still being pursued by NUCFRLANMPE at the National Industrial Court.

This year’s Stop Precarious Work campaign is being organized against the background of deepening erosion of the rights of workers at work. Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and sections 9(6a) and 9(6b) of the Labour Act cap 198 Laws of the Federation 1990 guarantees the unfettered rights of Nigerian workers to freely associate and join the union. Nigerian Labour laws also guarantee rights to confirmed and secured jobs, minimum wages and pension, prohibit child labour and ensure minimum hours of work and minimum safety standard at work.

It is also an essential part of the ILO’s fundamental principles and rights at work that workers shall be free to exercise the right to freedom of Association and the right to organise and engage in collective bargaining as contained in conventions 87 and 98. Sadly in Nigeria some employers’ greed for profit and the increasing dominance of global capital have led to some gross abuse of workers’ and unprecedented violation of trade union rights. Some Employers now demand as a condition for investment, ‘flexible labour market’ a term that is associated with casual, contract and other unethical forms of employment.
In Nigeria, companies are replacing their full-time workforce with temporary, casual, outsourced and contract workers at a frightening rate. Employers now hide behind what they call the ‘core’ Value of their business to casualise over 70 per cent of their workforce. Low incomes, job insecurity, delayed payments of salaries and pensions, long hours of work without overtime payment, denial of sick leave and payment for sick leave ,denial of annual leave and maternity leave, job insecurity, lack of redundancy benefits, Poor health and safety conditions and nonpayment of compensation for injuries sustained at work, poor working conditions, poor motivation, lack of social protection, Arbitrary deduction and non remittance of pension contributions and taxes, denial of rights to join the union and bargain collectively are some of the effects of casualisation and other unethical employment practices currently embraced by employers.

We are opposed to Casual, outsourced and contract work because under such arrangements workers are not protected and are exposed to all kind of abuses, unfair and unjust practices some of which are highlighted above. Unprotected and exploited workers are not happy workers and can therefore not be productive workforce needed for the much desired transformation of Nigeria .All of the above violate several aspects of our labour laws and in particular section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic and sections 9(6a) and 9(6b) of the Labour Act cap 198 Laws of the federation 1990, which guarantee Nigerian workers unfettered rights to associate and join the union.

The law is an important regulator of the relationship between workers and their employers. Violation and open disregard for the law by parties in the Industrial relations system is capable of creating atmosphere of industrial anarchy and chaos. We observe with deep concern increasing disregard for the rule of law by several private sector employers.
We recognise that we cannot overcome rights violation at work if we do not organise. Organising is all about workers coming together to collectively solve problems encountered at their workplaces. Some of the common problems encountered at work include discrimination ( gender, ), lack of respect for human dignity, low wages, denial of benefits, inhuman treatment by supervisors, exclusion from decision making, unsafe working conditions, casualisation/outsourcing, indiscriminate termination of employment and other unfair labour practices by employers.

We acknowledge that the Nigerian labour laws in spite of the need for review still offer great protection for working people. We are concerned that these progressive laws are being violated with impunity by employers particularly in the private sector as workers are denied the right to organise.

Such anti- union Employers include Sino PP Limited, a sack manufacturing company in Kano. It engages in open disregard for the law by refusing to honour the judgement of the National Industrial Court (NIC) in favour of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria after 10 years of laborious struggle to organise workers in the factory. As we speak, the Chinese employers variously disregarded court rulings in favour of unionization and face court contempt and mass actions of organized labour. The growing culture of impunity by employers is spreading across sectors like Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Food and Beverage sector with notorious Employers like La Casera in Isolo and UTC Ilupeju, Lagos, in the Aviation sector with employers like First Nation and in the Printing and Publishing sector with employers like Macmillan Publishers, Punch Newspapers, New Global Paper Product Nigeria Ltd and National Mirror Newspaper

We therefore utilise this occasion of decent work day to reiterate our commitment and collective resolve to work together to defend the rights of our members across sectors particularly the right to organise and bargain collectively.

We demand immediate end to all forms of employment that offend human dignity and deny workers access to living wages, social protection and denial of the right to join the union. We ask employers of labour to respect the law and where the law is observed in breach, the Ministry of Labour and other agencies of government should enforce the law.

To the millions of workers subjected to inhuman and un-dignifying employment, we are determined to join forces to embark on unbroken struggle to force recalcitrant employers to respect workers right to join the union. It is the basis for our struggle to end precarious work in Nigeria.
Aluta continua!
Thank You for your attention

Comrade A.K.A Motajo Comrade Issa Aremu mni
Chairperson Chairperson
Organised Private Sector IndustriALL Global Union
Sub Sahara Africa

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