The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has urged workers in Africa to intensify the fight against injustice so as to fast-track the continent’s democratic and economic growth.
Its National President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, made the call on Wednesday in Abuja at the 4th Quadrennial Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
“To win any fight, we must strive to build workers and trade unions’ power. We must bear in mind that the fight for stronger unions are the best safeguards for democracy.
“I urge us as workers and leaders of workers’ organisations to always be in the forefront of the struggle for a sustainable planet that provides guarantees for a just transition to a future of socially protected work.
“We must continue to strive for redistribution of global wealth and continue to call on our governments to be alive to their distributive role through progressive tax reforms, welfare programmes and widening safety nets,” he said.
According to him, Africa wants to add value to her raw materials.
“The continent wants to create jobs for her teeming youths; we want to export semi-finished and finished products for the global market without overbearing restrictions of trade tariffs and unwieldy standardisation constraints placed by the developed world,” he said.
He added that Africa wanted to reverse her dismal contribution to global trade which United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2015 Report did put at 2.39 per cent.
“Fair trade is the only way Africa can attract genuine investments on the continent, accumulate capital, industrialise, create decent jobs, bring peace, stop forced migration and beat poverty, disease and untimely deaths.
“Africans want global support and solidarity to institutionalise a democratic culture that is popular, transparent, accountable and beholden to Africans.
“The challenges before us as workers and as workers’ representative are not only daunting, but also almost overwhelming. We must be strengthened by the fact that the fight before us is a fight for survival.
“There are very few options left to us. We are condemned to fight for our very life and to engage in a good fight, we must draw strength from the avalanche of our survival instincts.
“The most useful of these instincts is the instinct to unite because our greatest strength lies in our unity; unity of purpose, unity of voice, and unity of action. Another profound instinct is the instinct to organise.
“We cannot do more than our abilities to organise. There is no force on earth that can withstand the power of an organised working-class movement,” he said.
Wabba, who said that the event came by the Centenary of the International Labour Organization (ILO), pointed out that it was also important to rally round progress and profound declarations made at the ILO 2019 conference.
He added that the event also marked the time popular protests had taken place for the past few months in many parts of the world.
According to him, the common denominator in the protests is the resolute will of the people to resist low wages and pensions, adverse labour laws reforms, and punitive austerity robes sewn by international financial institutions.
He said that the voice of working people of the world through the protests was very loud and clear as workers demanded improved working and living conditions, real democracy and social progress through creation and sustenance of decent jobs.
“In the struggle of the past few weeks, we draw a useful lesson ‘a people united can never be defeated’. Indeed, it is possible to unite and make a difference.
“We regret the loss of lives and injuries in the course of these protests. We call for diligent investigation and prosecution of those who used excessive force on peaceful protesters.
“For us in Nigeria’s labour movement, the timing of this congress is also very significant as it coincided with the implementation of the N30,000 increase in our national minimum wage and the consequential adjustments for all salary grades.
“We commend the support of the ITUC throughout this struggle using the Wage Review in Africa Mechanism (WRAM),” he said.
The theme of the congress is “Unite and Make a Difference”.
Edited by Saidu Adamu/Ephraims Sheyin (NAN)
Ekiti workers suspend strike as lawmakers intervene
The organised labour in Ekiti has announced the suspension of the three-day warning strike embarked upon by civil servants in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the suspension of the strike, which commenced on Monday, was owing to the intervention of members of the state House of Assembly.
NAN also reports that the lawmakers had, early on Monday, organised a meeting with the executive arm of government and the leadership of the organised labour.
The meeting was organised by the Assembly Committee on Public Matters, Chaired by Mr Oluwajuwa Adegbuyi, at the Assembly’s complex, Ado-Ekiti.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ekiti chapter, Mr Olatunde Kolapo, said the organised labour decided to suspend the warning strike due to the intervention of the lawmakers.
He also hinged the decision on the assurance from members of the Assembly that some of their demands would be implemented.
“The House of Assembly has actually intervened and the honourable members have looked into our demands one after the other. To God be the glory, almost all our demands have been acceded to.
“Because of the position which the Assembly has taken, we will begin to work together to see to the implementation of the proposal.
“We, therefore, urge our members, who are presently at home to please, as from tomorrow, go back to their places of work.
“If the government fails to implement the new agreement reached with us at the end of the day, we have only, we will embark on the strike again, because we have only suspended it; we have not called it off, “Kolapo said.
NAN reports that in the new agreement signed by government and the organised labour and which was presented by the NLC chairman, the former pledged to ensure continuous payment of workers’ monthly salaries.
Part of the agreement also was to effect the payment of the financial benefits of 2015 promotion in September, while payment for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 would follow.
It was also agreed upon that the negotiation on the implementation of the minimum wage and consequential adjustment would resume as soon as COVID-19 subsided.
NAN reports that labour had earlier directed civil servants in the state to embark on a three-day warning strike, beginning from Monday, to compel the state government to accede to their demands.
Earlier, the chairman of Assembly Committee on Public Matters, said that the meeting was to find solutions to the demands of the workers.
He thanked the labour leaders for honouring the invitation, promising that their demands would be attended to, if possible, with necessary legislation, to promote industrial peace and harmony.
“As representatives of the people, part of our mandate is to be arbiters, especially in the ongoing industrial disharmony.
“We want to assure you that the Assembly, under the leadership of the Speaker, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, will ensure that your demands are conveyed to the executive for possible resolution,” Adegbuyi said.
Also speaking, the state Head of Service, Mrs Peju Babafemi, restated the commitment of the Gov. Kayode Fayemi-led administration to the welfare of the citizenry, especially workers.
She assured that government would not hesitate to implement some of the demands by labour as soon as the economy improved.
Present at the meeting were the Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Ekiti chapter, Mr Sola Adigun and the Chairman, Joint Negotiation Council (NJC), Mr Kayode Ifatomiluyi.
The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour Matters, Mr Oluyemi Esan and the Leader of Government Business in the Assembly, Chief Gboyega Aribisogan, were also present at the meeting.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
Minimum wage: Ekiti workers begin 3-day warning strike Monday
The organised labour in Ekiti state, on Friday, said that there was no going back on its planned commencement of a three-day warning strike from Aug. 3.
The strike, according to the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), is to compel the state government to pay the outstanding salaries, allowances and pension arrears of their members.
They, therefore, directed workers across the state to proceed on the warning strike, after which, they said, a full-blown strike would follow, if government failed to accede to their demands.
The directive was made known via a statement jointly signed by the Chairmen of NLC, TUC and JNC, Kolapo Olatunde, Sola Adigun and Kayode Fatomiluyi respectively, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Ado Ekiti.
NAN reports that their demands also included unresolved issues surrounding unpaid benefits and non-implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage across board.
Others are non-payment of leave bonus from 2015 till date as well as the arrears of promotions for workers at all levels.
“This warning strike, called by the organised labour in Ekiti, will commence on the midnight of Aug. 3.
“The state government has yet to attend to any of our requests, such as financial promotion for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“There is no commitment to all the outstanding deductions, such as cooperative money, loan repayment to banks, housing fund and others.
“Based on the above, the strike will commence from 12 midnight of Aug. 3, except government attends to our demands.
“We warn that no worker should go to work or listen to any directive from any quarters, except from the leadership of the organised labour,” the statement said.
NAN recalls that Gov. Fayemi, had in the early days of his second tenure, promised the state workers of defraying the arrears owed them by the previous administration, totalling N57 billion within one year of his assumption of office.
Labour, however, claimed that the promise had remained unfulfilled by government, hence the current face-off between the two parties.
Edited By: Chidi Opara and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
Oyo NUJ applauds Makinde over NLC chairman’s appointment as perm sec
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Titilola-Sodo was recently appointed as pioneer Permanent Secretary of the State Local Government Staff Pensions Board.
Babalola described the elevation of Titilola-Sodo, also the immediate past President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in the state, as a welcome development to the labour movement.
“The elevation of our distinguished NLC Chairman, Titilola-Sodo is a welcome development if we are to go by the exploits of the labour leader in the state local government administration.
“It is a thing of joy that the labour of our heroes are no longer in vain. Titilola-Sodo is a man imbued with character of a Omoluabi (good person). He has weathered the storm and deserves all the accolades one can muster.
“A great thinker and highly disciplined union leader. Titilola-Sodo is a selfless and wonderful personality whose love for fellow workers attest to why he was elected twice as NULGE President and recently NLC Chairman.
“On behalf of all journalists in the state, I celebrate an achiever and a great citizen of the state. May God guide, guard and protect you to excel in this onerous task,” he said.
The NUJ chairman commended the governor for appointing a thoroughbred professional like Titilola-Sodo as the pioneer permanent secretary in the state Local Government Staff Pensions Board.
According to him, the governor by this singular appointment, has shown that he is a listening leader, who heeded the cries of local government workers to have a permanent secretary in the board.
In his response, Titilola-Sodo thanked the NUJ for the honour and expressed his readiness to work with the governor in realising his continuous and timely payment of retired council workers’ pensions as and when due.
Titilola-Sodo said that local government workers had been championing the need for the state to have a permanent secretary in the Pensions Board.
He said that the governor by his appointment had fulfilled one of his electoral promises to the workers in the state.
“I can’t thank my brother, Babalola, the NUJ Chairman enough for this honour. He is a worthy comrade.
“The transformation of the press centre in less than seven months of his tenure, attests to his brilliance, astuteness, unalloyed support and cooperation of his wonderful team.
“I equally wish to specially thank Gov. Makinde for his love for the state workforce. Makinde approved minimum wage early this year and also paid its arrears to workers.
Titilola-Sodo said that workers in the state owed the governor a lot, expressing appreciation to Gov. Makinde for his usual support to council workers and pensioners.
“Our governor is a man with milk of kindness. He has lifted the fortunes of Oyo State workers since he came on board last year.
“We will continue to support him to actualise his dreams for a better Oyo State,” Titilola-Sodo said.
Edited By: Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
NLC rejects 6% Tenancy, Lease stamp duty agreement
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Federal Government to reversed the six per cent tenancy and lease stamp duty agreement in the country.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President said this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Wabba said that the Congress noted with dismay the new policy by the Federal Government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) stipulating a six per cent stamp duty fee for every tenancy and lease agreement in Nigeria.
He said that the Congress condemned the agreement as the new policy came at a time when the socio-economic pressure arising from COVID-19 dislocations was affecting many of Nigerians.
According to him, the NLC rejects this new stamp duty policy on rents and leases as it will worsen the situation faced by Nigerian workers most of whom, unfortunately, are tenants.
“It is also alarming that we are having hike in taxes and user access fees when other countries are offering palliatives to their citizens.
“We call on the Federal Government and the Federal Inland Revenue Service to rescind this harsh fiscal measure as it is boldly insensitive to the material condition of Nigerians which has been compounded by the Covid-19.
“Nobody would want to be a tenant if they had alternative. This means that tenants which this new policy targets are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“It would be illogical, insensitive and inhuman to churn out laws that make our poor go to bed at night with tears in their eyes,” he said.
Wabba noted that the principle of public taxation especially progressive taxation all over the world was that the rich subsidizes for the poor and that every tax policy that would be enforceable must create a safety net for the poor.
“Accommodation is a fundamental right guaranteed by Nigeria’s constitution. It is unimaginable that tenants who are in the most vulnerable group would be expected to pay 6 per cent tax for accommodation when sales tax is 1.5 per cent.
“This is indeed a great injustice against the Nigerian poor. Government must take deliberate steps to avoid institutionalizing the widespread belief that it is a crime to be poor in Nigeria.
“We understand that the government needs money to run the business of governance especially at this time of economic challenges all over the world.
“But the answer is not in further exploiting the already exploited. There is no doubt that there are other painless ways of mobilizing funds to deal with the exigency of the times,” he said.
He therefore said that one of such ways of mobilising funds was to reduce official graft and corruption.
Wabba said that it does not make sense to ask Nigerians to make sacrifices when they are daily regaled of putrid stories of how public officials are accused of swallowing money in billions and making a comic of ‘fainting’ afterwards.
“Second, there are thousands of unoccupied houses in different parts of the Federal Capital Territory and indeed many cities in Nigeria belonging to very affluent members of the society.
“As we have always demanded and canvassed, Government should tax such property in order to relieve Nigeria’s daunting housing deficits and to generate the needed funds to run government business.
“While we expect the reversal of the 6 per cent tenancy and lease stamp duty policy, we remind government that its highest responsibility is to ensure the security and welfare of every Nigerian,” he said.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)