By Chimezie Godfrey
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba has said that the Congress will intensify campaign for decent work and protection for pensioners in the year 2021.
In his new year message to Nigerians on Thursday, Comrade Wabba also called for the prioritization of the security of lives and property of Nigerians by the government, among other critical issues.
He said, “In 2021, the Nigeria Labour Congress will intensify the campaign for decent work. Our drive will be steered by the four strategic objectives of decent work – opportunities for full employment, rights at work, social protection especially for pensioners, and social dialogue.
“We prioritize decent work because work is divine and of intrinsic value as both a means and the end of production and also as an invitation to co-create with God.
“It is unfortunate that till now, some states have refused to pay the new national minimum wage. It has also been reported that some states that had signed collective bargaining agreements with our state councils on the payment of consequential salary adjustment and pension benefits owing to the new national minimum wage have started reneging on their commitment.
” In the midst of the prevailing astronomical increase in the cost of living, it would only be tantamount to a death wish on workers for any State to refuse or renege to pay the new national minimum wage and the consequential salary adjustment.
“Accordingly, we call on all our state councils still struggling with their state governments on the payment of the national minimum wage and consequential salary increase and those whose state governments have unilaterally cut wages and are owing workers salary arrears to prepare for mass industrial action and protests this New Year.
“Furthermore, we insist that government must make possible the enabling environment that would foster job creation and full employment in line with the constitutional responsibilities of the State to ensure the welfare and security of citizens.
“As we saw with the recent “ENDSARS Protest”, unemployment and poverty are perfect recipes for the breakdown of law and order and are also harbingers of widespread anarchy.”
Comrade Wabba noted that in order to withstand further shocks from the resurgence of fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 and other health and socio-economic dislocations, that the government must design a recovery plan that rebuilds the social contract between government and societies and hoisted on the foundations of resilience.
According to him, in order to achieve this, we must ensure that decent work is at the centre of government actions to bring back economic growth and build a new national and global economy that puts people and the planet first.
The NLC President pointed out that in 2020, the country witnessed some of the most audacious backlashes of the waves of insecurity, he, therefore, said that the NLC will push for the prioritization of the security of lives and property.
He noted that terrorist groups and cells of armed bandits overran large swathes of our lands carving out domains of operations at great cost to citizens’ lives, limbs and livelihoods.
According to him, workers were not spared as many workers became victims of the outrageous bloody campaign by the agents of evil and misery.
He added that the recent murder of hundreds of farmworkers in Koshobe, Borno State, and its environs introduced a new angle of industrial safety concerns to the specter of terrorism in North-East Nigeria.
“1n 2021, we will fully unfurl our plans for a national advocacy campaign on insecurity. Part of the plans is to convene a multi-stakeholders conference on insecurity in Nigeria.
“If there is anytime we must prioritize national security it is now as nobody knows what next the widening fissures in our national security walls would allow in. Consistent with the provisions of Article 10 of ILO Convention 190 which permits workers to remove themselves from work situations that could harm their persons, we might be forced to ask workers to withdraw their services from workplaces that are not secured and safe,” he stressed.
Comrade Wabba also stressed that they will campaign for the promotion of good governance, as well as urge the government to devise strategies on how to overcome the COVID -19 pandemic, among other key issues.
He further called for the inclusion of all Nigerians in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine irrespective of their social status in the society.
“It is heartwarming that in the already established COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration protocol in many parts of the world, frontline health workers top the priority list.
“We call for the inclusion of all workers, the aged, the vulnerable, employers, and public officials in the priority list of recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We will never say enough of the need for a pro-poor vaccine. We reiterate our call on the international health community to work together to ensure that the already developed vaccines and future vaccine developments would not come at a price that would dig deeper holes in the pockets of developing countries which economies are already overwhelmed by the impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The current global health insurgency is primarily a public health emergency and so the solution should not be commoditized but treated as a service of humanitarian gesture.
“We call on the Nigerian government and governments of other African cum developing economies to take up the challenge of the coronavirus by rejigging our public health systems, our capabilities for research and innovation and robust mobilization of public consensus for effective adherence to health protocols for our collective survival,” Comrade Wabba stated.