Labour no longer at ease with employment crisis, says NLC

The employment crisis in Nigeria is a serious concerns to all well meaning Nigerians. This probably explains why the Kaduna State Government led by Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has entered the bad books of Organised Labour in Nigeria as the only employer, whether public or private, that has sacked the highest number of workers in one swoop without caring about the social impacts and dislocations on workers and the lager society. It was, therefore, no surprise that the plight of these workers and others in the state was one of the major issues raised in the May Day speech by the President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba.

Under the sub-heading, Attack on Workers and Trade Union Rights by Kaduna State Government, Comrade Wabba informed that Congress has already reported the governor to the International Labour Organisation, ILO, for appropriate action among others. He said: “We condemn in strong terms, the recent violation of workers’ and trade union rights by the Kaduna State Government where over 40,000 workers from various ministries, departments and agencies, tertiary institutions and the local government were issued sack letters without respect of labour laws and court pronouncements. This is with the intention of avoiding the payment of the terminal benefits of these workers. This is an act of cruelty and inhumanity to fellow humans and citizens. “Also condemnable is the desperate attempt by the Kaduna State Government to deny the sacked workers and the trade unions their fundamental right to protest. The right of citizens to peaceful protest is a universal constitutional right that cannot be denied or wished away. The only requirement, according to our legal jurisprudence, is to inform the police for coverage. No permission is required nor prior approval from the security services. The deployment of over 8,000 security agents to stop workers  from protesting their illegal sack in Kaduna is an aberration and undemocratic especially in a situation where pro-government-sponsored protests in Kaduna are held regularly. “Workers could recall that in 2012 when el-Rufai felt threatened by the policies of the then government, he wore NLC T-shirt and joined organised labour to protest from Berger Junction in Abuja. We wish to remind Governor el-Rufai that no condition is permanent. A day would come when he would once again need to gate-crash as a participant in workers’ protest. The Kaduna State Government has also refused to comply with Section 16A of the Trade Union Act. “ While noting that “as required by international conventions, a formal complaint has been filed at the ILO against the Kaduna State Government”, he called “on the governor to tread the path of honour and respect the rights of citizens.”

Challenge of Unemployment

On the ravaging employment crisis in the country, the NLC President said: “The unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 18.80 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 from 16.20 per cent in the second quarter of 2017. Unemployment has remained high with an alarming proportion of our youths jobless. The few that have a semblance of employment operate under very precarious conditions denoted by job insecurity, poor work conditions and gender discrimination.    The trend of factory closures has continued to spiral out of control turning our once lively centres of economic productivity into worship and entertainment centres. The crisis of widening unemployment in Nigeria has been exacerbated by indiscriminate sack and retrenchment of workers by some public and private employers. Unfortunately, the different levels of government that should be more concerned about protecting our people are the ones leading the campaign to push more Nigerians into the unemployment market.”