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Labour hails Kogi govt. over utilisation of N30.8 bn bailout, asks for more

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Mr Onu Edoka, National Vice President, Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN) on Friday urged Kogi Government to fulfil all agreements it entered with labour before release of N30.8 billion bailout fund.

Edoka who is also Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Kogi chapter, disclosed this at the 14th Edition of Northcentral Zonal Conference of the MHWUN in Lokoja.

He said labour would not make categorical statement on utilisation of the bailout fund as government was yet to fulfil all aspects of their agreement.

He however commended the government for effective utilisation of the funds.

“We must appreciate the state government over the bailout. The bailout was effectively used by government. Any one who harboured contrary opinion should engage the government personally.

“However, we have declined to make a categorical statement on the usage of the fund as we should do because, government has not fulfilled all aspects of negotiations entered with labour before the release of the fund by CBN,” he said.

The labour leader said government was yet to release 10 per cent of the fund kept aside to offset arrears of state workers salary.

“The government promised to pay in instalment from the 10 per cent reserved, but they have not commenced. When that is done, we shall come out to make a definite statement.

“We have computed those months when percentages were paid. What is needed now is to offset all arrears of salaries for state workers who are on the cleared list, which is N2.8 billion,” he said.

Edoka however frowned at some aides of the governor who were allegedly sabotaging the complete payment of salary to council workers.

“Local government workers were paid 85 per cent for three months which was contrary to the governor’s directive for complete payment.

“The percentage payment to council workers was carried out by some of his appointees who are working internally to bring down the government.

“They have turned the LGA to their handbag which they carry about, and pick what they want,” he claimed.

Edoka therefore urged government to critically look into the matter and offset the outstanding salaries of the local councils’ workers.

He also called for the implementation of the “One roof” health scheme which was signed into law by the governor.

Foreign

Reps to amend Labour Act to strengthen NLC

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The House of Representatives says it plans to amend the Labour Act to strengthen the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House
made the pledge on Wednesday in Abuja, while receiving the leadership of the NLC in his office in Abuja.
He said the NLC
represented vast majority of Nigerians and had a mandate to protect the interest of the common man just like the legislature.
“We will be looking forward to your inputs, we are ready to look at them and amend the Labour Act.
“You
should do that on time because time is of the essence so that  we pass it very quickly,” Gbajabimila said.
The speaker urged the union to key into the motto of the 9th House of Representatives which was “Nation Building, a Joint Task”.
He
said that NLC should always conduct its activities free from political, religious or ethnic influences.
Earlier, NLC Chairman, Mr Ayuba Wabba said that the visit was aimed at seeking collaboration of the house towards building the union into a strong institution.
Wabba said that democracy can only thrive in the country through strong institutions like the NLC, legislature, judiciary among others.
He said that the NLC was made up of unions in the informal and formal sectors and that it represented the interest of the common man.
The chairman said the NLC was interested in sustaining cordial relationship with the green chamber for the protection of Nigerian people.
According to him, the United States, Germany, China and other developed countries have very strong labour unions and there is need to strengthen the NLC.
He
stressed the need to put an end to casualisation of workers through legislation, describing it as modern day slavery.
Wabba said that when amending the Labour Act, labour unions should be made more independent and that every Nigerian worker should be free to join any union of his choice.
He said there was  need for a social dialogue which should be made up of all stakeholders to address issues rather than strikes.
Wabba commended the house for its interventions in resolving labour related matters especially in the health, education and power sectors in the country.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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General news

How Ebonyi director labour initiative works for development

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Ebonyi has achieved a lot in the provision of infrastructure via the state government’s direct labour initiative, State Commissioner for Project Monitoring/Evaluation Oluchukwu Ezeali,  has said.

In a statement issued in Abuja, the commissioner said that Gov. David Umahi of the state had been using the initiative for development of the state since he assumed office.

He said that Umahi met the state in recession shortly after he assumed of office but turned the fortune of the state around through his initiatives.

He also said that the governor had, by employing indigenes and residents in contract execution, rejuvenated the civil service, improved household income, reduced social vices, crime and eliminated bureaucratic bottlenecks, among others.

He explained that through the direct labour policy, many people earned between N2, 000 and N8, 000 daily.

“Many of previously unemployed youths are daily engaged at these project sites; be it road construction, pipe-borne water reticulation, classrooms construction and renovations, among others,’’ he said.

The commissioner further said that the number of youths with skills that cut across jobs in high demand in the state required a separate study to ascertain.

“These skills being freely acquired at different locations across the state are empowering young people to monetise these skills as a means of livelihood.

“With experienced project supervisors overseeing each work, the knowledge transfer is enormous; this is one of the most important impacts of the Umahi Direct Labour policy,’’ he said.NAN)


Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Kayode Olaitan (NAN)

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General news

Labour, Civil Society flays deduction of salaries of workers, pensioners by Kaduna Govt, other States

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The Labour Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 has criticised the arbitrary deduction in the salaries and pension of workers and pensioners by the Kaduna State Government and other States.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Chairman of the Labour Civil Society Situation Room, said this in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting on Thursday in Abuja.

The meeting was held to review the recent developments pertaining to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on the economic front.

Wabba said that the Labour Civil Society Situation Room reviewed the decision by the Kaduna state government and a few other states to deduct the salaries of workers in their states, including healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 challenge.

“Even worse is the threat by Gov. Nasir El-Rufai to sack affected workers if they go on strike.

”This anti-worker practice championed by the Kaduna State government violates the fundamental principles and rights at work.

“These principles and rights are key components of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) global labour standards and are also codified in our laws.

”The infringement of these rights is a crude abuse of power and akin to modern day slavery.

“Wages are binding contracts which cannot be unilaterally or arbitrarily reviewed. It is unfortunate that while some states are giving incentives to workers at this time of grave health emergency, in line with global trend.

The Kaduna State Government is taking away from workers and pensioners. This is nothing but a full-blown industrial tyranny,” he said.

Wabba said the situation room was behind the ultimatum by workers in the affected states for a reversal of the unjust decision, adding it fully stands by workers’ resolve to embark on strike, if their demands were not met.

He said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room demanded that the state governments must reciprocate Federal Government’s gesture in granting moratorium on repayment of budget support palliatives by paying workers and pensioners their full entitlements.

“We also renew our calls for investigation on how states used the palliatives and Paris Club refunds.

“We demand that private sector employers should stop the retrenchment of workers in the guise of COVID-19 as such moves would only impair efforts geared at economic revitalisation,” he said.

Wabba said that the Labour Civil Society Situation Room applauded the Federal Government for reversing the directive by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to place workers on half salaries based on the claims of shortfall in revenue owing to COVID-19.

“This is the way to go for all employers in the public and private sectors in order to protect the livelihood and dignity of workers.

“The continued incidence of job losses, income deprivation and denial of the means of livelihood for workers by some employers in Nigeria on the excuse of COVID-19 is a source of worry to us,” he said.

The NLC president therefore said that Labour Civil Society Situation Room recommended that for immediate term, governments should adopt a measured approach to the fallout of COVID-19.

Wabba said government should not cut down on budgetary allocations to education, health, agriculture and infrastructure as these sectors were critical for the needed economic rebound and growth.

He also said government should unfreeze the embargo on public sector jobs, adding that hike in user access charges on public utilities should be shelved for the next six months.

“Given the abuse of security votes by many political office holders. we call for the scrapping of security votes from public budgeting in Nigeria.

“We call on political office holders to reduce their salaries and allowances in order to free up finances for other areas of national developmental needs.

“We also call for an end to medical and education tourism for elected public officials and their families.

“We call for an immediate stop to the practice of borrowing to finance consumption.

“We call for foreign loans where necessary to be tied exclusively to capital projects with feasible income and debt repayment potentials cum projections,” he said.

Wabba also called for accelerated disbursement of palliatives and loans to workers in the informal sector.

He said that this should be transparent, inclusive and monitored by mass-based groups, adding that the conditions for access to the loans should be minimal to deepen access.

Wabba said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room also recommended that the budgetary and planning process in Nigeria should be overhauled to become more socially inclusive, citizens-centred, value objective and reflective of real national developmental needs.

“We call on the National Assembly to set in motion legislative processes to deliver the promises of Chapter Two of Nigeria’s Constitution.

“On the budget process, we must cut our cloth according to our materials. We must discard the use of assumptive and deficit budgets that cannot be funded by available resources and heavily dependent on local and foreign loans especially for recurrent expenditure.

“We call for the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex, proper governance for our solid minerals sector, revival of moribund textile factories and other manufacturing concerns as a demonstration of our commitment to economic diversification,” he said.

Wabba said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room reiterates its commitment to defend jobs, wages and livelihoods.

He added that all interventions in this crisis must be geared at enhancing productivity, stimulating economic growth, promoting diversification of the economy and mobilising and empowering national productive forces.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Foreign

Asia’s largest slum in Mumbai sees reverse migration of labour amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Asia’s largest slum in Mumbai is seeing a reverse migration of low-cost labour back to their native states amid fear of surging cases of COVID-19 in the city.

Generating an annual revenue of 1 billion U.S. dollars, the slum has around 5,000 small-businesses and 15,000 single-room factories with home cum workplace of potters, tanners, weavers, tailors, soap makers, and it also has a massive recycling industry of metals and plastic scrap.

While the rest of Mumbai city with white-collar employment have opted for work-from-home, those in Dharavi slum have preferred to leave home-cum workplace for their native state fearing their life.

The slum, spread over 613 hectares with an estimated population of 1 million, is home to low-paid migrant labors from other states of India and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to their exodus back to their native states.

Of the 500,000 migrants registered with Mumbai police to leave the city for their home states, over 25 percent or 130,000 people are from the Dharavi slum.

Amid all the chaos, Mumbai’s civic authority has increased the number of close contacts of a COVID-19 patient to be tested and quarantine to 15 from five earlier in the slum, according to civic officials.

These efforts are seen bearing fruit as the Dharavi slum has managed to increase its doubling rate of positive cases to 21 days from three days earlier, which is much better than city’s average doubling rate of 14 days, they said.

As per the latest available update, Dharavi slum has 1,541 confirmed cases with 60 deaths reported so far out of the over 30,000 cases in Mumbai city.

However, with migrant workers having left in large numbers and unlikely to return in near future, the entire eco-system of the slum is also disrupted.

(XINHUA)

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Defence/Security

FRSC rescues pregnant woman in labour pains

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The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on Saturday rescued a pregnant woman, struggling to drive herself to hospital amid agony of labour pains.

Mr Bisi Kazeem, the FRSC spokesman, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, said that this occurred in Lagos.

He said that a patrol team belonging to the Airport Unit Command of the Corps, at about 2.34 p.m. sighted the pregnant woman.

“She was struggling to drive amidst painful labour and was rushed to a nearby hospital in Ajao Estate, where she was delivered of a baby girl barely three hours later,’’ he said.

Kazeem explained that the gesture was part of the Corps statutory responsibility of saving lives through prompt rescue services on the roads.

Kazeem said that the FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, have expressed deep appreciation to the patrol team for the prompt intervention and rescue services.

he said Oyeyemi further applauded them for such act of compassion and sacrifice which was a positive representation of the true mission of the Corps.

He noted that this was one among many of such interventions that the operatives of the Corps carry out from time to time as they embark on patrol.

Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Foreign

5 labourers killed in road accident in India’s Madhya Pradesh

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At least five workers were killed on Saturday after a goods’ truck they were travelling in overturned in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Police said.

The accident took place near Banda in Sagar District, about 185 kilometres east of Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.

“Today, in a road accident here, five migrant workers were killed near Banda,’’ a police official in Sagar district said.

“They were going to Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra.’’

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.

“Received sad news about the untimely death and injuries of many labourers in a road accident in Sagar.

“I pray to God for the peace of departed souls and strength to the victim families to bear this deep sorrow,’’ Chouhan said.

Earlier on Saturday, 24 migrant labourers were killed and more than 30 others injured when the trucks they were travelling in collided with each other in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

5 labourers killed in road accident in India’s Madhya Pradesh

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At least five workers were killed Saturday after a goods truck they were travelling in overturned in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, police said.

The accident took place near Banda in Sagar district, about 185 km east of Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.

“Today in a road accident here five migrant workers were killed near Banda,” a police official in Sagar district said. “They were going to Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra.”

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.

“Received sad news about the untimely death and injuries of many labourers in a road accident in Sagar. I pray to God for the peace of departed souls and strength to the victim families to bear this deep sorrow,” Chouhan said.

Earlier Saturday, 24 migrant labourers were killed and more than 30 others injured when the trucks they were travelling in collided with each other in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district.

(XINHUA)

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Metro

Electricity workers threaten strike over sack of labour leader

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The Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) has threatened to resume its pending strike, if a purported letter sacking its President, Mr Chris Okonkwo, was not withdrawn immediately.

The association General Secretary, Mr Abubakar Dubagari, made this known in a statement on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Mr Umar Mohammed, had on April 24 issued the letter sacking Okonkwo, the company’s General Manager, Special Duties.

The letter read: “After servicing TCN for a period of about six years, please be informed that your political posting had lapsed by June 11, 2018 and you should have ceased from coming to work from June 12, 2018.

“Consequently, you are to stop coming to work with immediate effect.”

Dubagari, expressing the association’s grievances over the sack, said: “We demand that the letter under reference be withdrawn immediately.

“In the event that you are unyielding to this demand, we shall mobilise all legal and industrial machineries at our disposal to resume our pending industrial action and this shall be without further notice.”

He said that termination of the appointment was not within the prerogative of Mohammed as Managing Director.

According to him, but it should be within the purview of the Minister of Power, subject to laid down rules and procedures.

“Dr Chris Okonkwo was not on political posting to TCN as you portrayed in your letter under reference.

“He has been a career power sector employee for more than 27 years and rose to the position of General Manager since 2013 through hard work and dedication to duties.

“His appointment, like any other employee of TCN, was anchored on the public service rules of 60 years of age or 35 years of service and does not carry tenure of service.

“As such, his service with TCN cannot be said to have lapsed since June 11, 2018,” Dubagari said.

He said the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Federal Ministry of Power, Trade Unions Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and other bodies intervened and the parties were advised to restrain themselves and resume harmonious working relationship.

Edited By: Razak Owolabi/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Politics

Ex-Labour Party scribe says Gambari’s experience ‘ll impact Nigeria

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A former National Secretary of the Labour Party, Dr Kayode Ajulo, said in Lagos on Wednesday that the new Chief of Staff  (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, would bring his robust international experience to bear in the affairs of Nigeria.

Ajulo made the announcement in a statement he sent to the News Agency of Nigeria reacting to the appointment of Gambari as the new CoS.

On Wednesday, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, presented Gambari, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, to members of the Federal Executive Council as the new CoS to the President.

“We expect nothing else than those lofty ideas on good governance as being promoted by the UN and the Prof. Gambari-Albright Commission,” Ajulo said, describing the appointment as highly commendable.

Ajulo, who is also a constitutional lawyer, described the new CoS as a typical diplomat, who pushed a progressive foreign policy that made Nigeria to send peace-keeping force to Sierra Leone to restore democratic rule and also worked to stop the Rwandan genocide.

“Prof. Gambari, is a core technocrat with robust wealth of experience.

“I pray his appointment comes with the much-needed additional expertise and sanity in the country’s seat of power,’’ the lawyer said.

Gambari, a scholar and diplomat, is the Founder/Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental think-tank on research, policy studies, advocacy and training on the nexus between conflict prevention and resolution, democratisation and development in Africa.

He has also had an illustrious career, spanning the academia, government and diplomacy, culminating to his appointment as the first UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005).

Gambari was the Chairman of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid (1990-1994) and was Head of the UN Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007) as well as UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar and Special Representative in Angola.

He was Minister of External Affairs (1984-1985) and later Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN (1990-1999).

Gambari also served as Joint Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID (2010-2012). He is currently Chair of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

The new CoS attended Provincial (now Government) Secondary School, Ilorin before proceeding to Floreat Collegium King’s College, Lagos.

He received his BSc (Econs) degree from the London School of Economics (1968) and his MA and Ph.D in Political Science/International Relations (1970, 1974) from Columbia University, U.S.

Gambari has taught at universities in U.S. Nigeria and Singapore and has authored a number of books.

He has received several academic and national honours, including “Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” and the “Order of the Champion of Oliver R. Tambo” of South Africa.

Gambari is the pioneer Chancellor of the Kwara State University, Ilorin as well as the current pro-chancellor and chairman of the governing council of Bayero University, Kano.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

 

 

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