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Workers’ Day: NLC distributes palliatives in Yobe



The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Yobe Chapter on Friday celebrated Workers’ Day on a low key with donation of palliatives to Specialist Hospital and motor parks in Damaturu.

The State Chairman of the NLC, Muktar Tarbutu, while donating the items at the Specialist Hospital Damaturu, said the items were meant to complement Yobe Government’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Tarbutu said the items which included face masks, buckets, liquid hand wash and hand sanitisers would also be donated to  the Office of the Head of Service and Damaturu motor parks.

The NLC boss commended the state government for taking proactive measures to contain an outbreak of the pandemic in the state.

NLC appreciates and commends Yobe Government under the leadership of Gov. Mai Mala Buni for proactively taking measures to contain an outbreak of the disease in the state,’’ Tarbutu said.

He advised workers from all sectors of public and private organisations to celebrate the occasion from home while adhering to strict safety measures against COVID-19 as outlined by health personnel

Dr Aisha Buba, the Medical Director, Yobe Specialist Hospital, Damaturu, expressed her appreciation on behalf of the hospital management and Yobe Government.

“This is a very good gesture and it has shown philanthropism of highest order. You have shown that humanity is your priority.

“By God’s Grace we will try as much as possible to use the items to prevent COVID-19 pandemic in this specialist hospital and the state in general,’’ she said. .

Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)




London to offer COVID-19 risk assessments to Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers: mayor




Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in London will have access to risk assessments after reports showing they have a higher risk of being affected by COVID-19, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced Monday.

The risk assessments — which will be open to those working across the Greater London Authority family, including Transport for London, The Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade — will consider the physical and mental health needs of all vulnerable staff, including BAME, older and those with pre-existing conditions, said City Hall in a statement.

“Far from being a great leveller, the coronavirus crisis has exposed the unacceptable major inequalities in our society,” Khan said.

“This pandemic must be a wake-up call to our country and we need the Government to show their commitment to tackling these great injustices and immediately commission an independent public inquiry that will properly address this issue,” he added.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die from coronavirus than white men and women, after taking into account age and socio-demographic factors.

City Hall published Monday a new research to further understand this disproportionate impact, comparing coronavirus cases in London to a range of measures including ethnicity, job security, poverty, deprivation, age and a range of health conditions.

The study from City Hall’s Intelligence Unit shows the highest COVID-19 death rate in London is an area of Newham, where 82 percent of the population are BAME, one in three is in insecure employment and there are high levels of deprivation, obesity and diabetes.


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Cambodian PM says 256 factories suspended due to COVID-19, affecting over 130,000 workers




Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said Monday that some 256 garment, footwear and travel goods factories in Cambodia had suspended their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting more than 130,000 workers.

Besides, about 169 companies in tourism sector had also been closed temporarily, leaving roughly 16,891 people unemployed, he added.

“To help relieve the burden of the jobless, the government and the employers have decided to pay 40 United States dollars and 30 United States dollars, respectively to each of them per month, so an unemployed worker gets 70 United States dollars,” Hun Sen said during a visit to the southwestern coastal province of Preah Sihanouk.

European countries and the United States are major market destinations for the kingdom’s garment, footwear and travel goods exports, and both have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as their markets continue to close and residents tighten their purse strings.

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said last month that factories had not received any orders from buyers for both May and June, as well as for the foreseeable future.

“We can conclude that exports of garments and footwear will be hit hard in the second quarter this year,” he said.

The garment, footwear and travel goods industry is Cambodia’s biggest export sector, employing about 750,000 people in approximately 1,100 factories and branches, according the Labor Ministry.

The sector earned gross revenue of 9.32 billion United States dollars last year, up 11 percent compared to the year before.


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Port Harcourt DisCo denies plans to sack 120 workers



The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) had denied rumour that  it plans to sack over 120 workers from its workforce.
PHED Manager, Corporate Communications,Mr John Onyi said this in a statement on Sunday in Port Harcourt.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) had alleged that PHED was planning to retrench over 120 staff on June 1.
The union, however, appealed to governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers states to urgently intervene and restrain the company from retrenching workers.
Onyi, however, said rather than retrench workers, PHED management was seeking ways to promote workers’ welfare in spite of the current macroeconomic environment in the country.
“We find this claim by SSAEAC surprising as PHED management is not aware of any such move to sack over 120 staff.
PHED management has repeatedly offered a hand of friendship as well as operates open-door-policy of dialogue with the union on promotion of staff welfare.
“We expect that SSAEAC ought to have taken advantage of our open-door policy to verify the unfounded reports credited to them,” he said.
Onyi said that the management had recently reviewed the organisational structure of the company to align workers for improved service delivery.
According to him, the reorganisation is intended to streamline the workforce to optimise value in its services.
“So, there is no iota of truth on the downsizing of staff.
“We expect the cooperation of SSAEAC in the formal activation of service conditions, just as management is focused on welfare of its staff.
“We will also like to state that there are no plans to witch-haunt state governments especially Rivers that has created enabling environment for PHED to thrive.
Currently, PHED is partnering with the Ministry of Power in Rivers to improve electricity supply to the state. So, there is no rancour between PHED and Rivers government,” he said.
Onyi  said that the company was committed to maintaining industrial harmony with SSAEAC.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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AU, UNICEF condemn killing of health workers in Somalia




The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) on Sunday in separate statements condemned the abduction and deliberate killing of seven health workers and a civilian at a local health center in southern Somalia.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director said these heinous attacks interfere with fundamental protections of the right to health and the perpetrators must be held accountable.

“These health workers were heroes, putting their safety on the line every day to provide lifesaving care to children and families. We will hold their dedication and sacrifice in our hearts as we continue our work to reach vulnerable children across the country,” Fore said in a statement issued on Saturday evening.

The eight people were abducted on May 27 from an NGO-run health clinic, about 30 kilometers away from Mogadishu, before their brutal killing.

Francois Madeira, AMISOM head of mission, said the health workers continue to provide much-needed quality healthcare as Somalia continues to face the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am shocked by the senseless killings of civilians. Deliberate attacks against health professionals and facilities are a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law and constitute a war crime in non-international armed conflicts,” said Madeira.

He said the health workers are putting their lives on the line to save others in very difficult circumstances.

No arrest has so far been made and no group has claimed responsibility for the murder.


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COVID-19: Gynaecologists decries rising fatalities among medical workers



The  Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SGON), Lagos State Chapter, has decried the increasing fatalities among frontline medical personnel in the war against COVID-19.

Dr Joseph Akinde, Chairman of the society, made the remarks while presenting some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and crates of malt drink to the Lagos State Government as part of the SGON’s contribution to efforts in fighting the pandemic.

Akinde said that the society was particularly worried by the upsurge in infection and death of the health workers.

The chairman, who is also the Medical Director of Living Spring Hospital, Ejigbo, a private medical facility, frowned at reports that some medical personnel were not adequately kitted, especially with PPE while handling infected COVID-19 suspects.

According to him, this is like sending soldiers to the battle ground without adequately arming them.

He stressed the need for adequate protection of the medical personnel, who are sacrificing to be in the front line against the coronavirus disease.

Akinde said the donation, which included 100 pieces of face shields and malt drinks, was in response to the difficult challenges faced by the frontline medical workers.

He explained that the face shields were for the medical personnel performing surgery on COVID-19 patients or those carrying out child delivery of pregnant infected patients.

“The safety of the medical workers should be the topmost priority because without them, the battle against disease outbreaks will not be won and the world will not achieve the universal health coverage.

“The face shields are for the medical personnel performing surgery on COVID-19 patients, including those carrying out child delivery on pregnant infected patients,’’ he said.

The malt drink, he added, is for the frontline medical workers to take and cool down after a hard day’s assignment.

Akinde, while reacting to the recent statement by the state government that some COVID-19 patients should be handled at home, warned his colleagues, especially those in the private facilities, not to engage in handling COVID-19 patients except if their facilities were accredited for that purpose.

He counselled that every Lagosian must now fully take responsibility for his or her safety and survival.

“As bitter and difficult to swallow this message could be, it remains the gospel-truth which all Nigerians, not just Lagos residents, should have imbibed from the very first day of the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria.

“This will have saved the country a lot in terms of transmission and deployment of scarce funds and facilities for treating the disease.’’

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Lockdown: Event centres operators lament loss of patronage, lay off workers



Some proprietors of event centres in Lagos on Saturday complained about poor patronage of their outfits due to lockdown imposed to flatten the spreading curves of the coronavirus.

The relaxation centres owners, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, said they had laid off many of their workers because of the movement restriction order.

Mr Chike Asusu, Director of Double Day Events and Confessionary, at FESTAC said that he closed shop since the beginning of the lockdown in March, in line with the government order.

He said that since then, no form of income has been coming to him.

Asusu described the hospitality industry as worst hit by the lockdown.

“Lack of patronage of the centres, has compelled owners of many event centres to lay off workers so as to cut overhead.

“Three months running now, we have been without business.

“I managed to keep my 20 workers for the first two months of the lockdown, hoping the whole thing will be over soon while maintaining utility bills in the place.

The centre director, who decried the lockdown, stressed that no fewer than 10,000 jobs have been lost in the hospitality industry due to the lockdown in the state.

He appealed to the state government to assist the hospitality industry operators with bailout fund for the hospitality sector, in the post lockdown so as to return to business.

Also, Mr James Amadi, an outdoor catering service provider and event manager, said that social events have been greatly hindered by the lockdown.

Amadi, who services Lagos Trade Fair market and environs, said that people that fixed events before the lockdown, have put them off.

He said that this has rendered many operators redundant and unable to meet their obligations.

Normally I hired five caterers, three event venue decorators, three DJs and 12 ushers and all of them are been weekly.

But, without jobs these days, it has been difficult to keep them hence we laid them off.

“The tempo of the business will determine who among them that will be called back in the post lockdown,’’ he said.

Edited By: Cecilia Odey/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Rwandan medical workers deploy robots to minimize coronavirus risk



At the Kanyinya COVID-19 treatment facility, a short distance from Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Akazuba, Ikizere and Ngabo report for duty, but these are no ordinary health care workers.

In a bid to minimise contact between patients infected with the coronavirus and doctors and nurses, the country has deployed the three robots to carry out simple tasks like taking temperatures and monitoring patients.

The sleek white robots, with big bright blue eyes and a rather human appearance, were donated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The robots are helping frontline workers tackle the coronavirus crisis in the East African nation, which so far, has 355 confirmed cases of the disease.

“The three robots that we have are part of the treating team,’’ said David Turatsinze, a doctor at the 75-bed facility, which housed 65 patients when the Reuters team visited.

By relaying messages to doctors and helping the team assess the effectiveness of their clinical decisions, the robots cut the number of bedside visits that doctors have to make.

Francine Umutesi, a bio-medical engineer who works as a health technology operations specialist at the Ministry of Health, said the robots were a first for Africa and had the potential to offer even more support to medical teams.

“It doesn’t remove the tasks the doctors are supposed to do, it’s just complementing their efforts,’’ she said.

Rwanda already uses drones to deliver blood and enforce restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

There are two more robots at the country’s other COVID-19 treatment centre, Nyamata, in south east Kigali.

Officials said the robots will be programmed to carry out additional tasks.

“In the future if they are programmed to take even blood pressure and the (blood) sugar, that definitely would be so helpful,’’ said Turatsinze.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Finland approves employment of additional non-EU agri-workers




Finnish government on Friday decided to allow 4,500 additional seasonal workers from non-EU members for harvesting in agriculture, said the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Marko Rosqvist, a specialist at the Finnish Industrial Union, told Xinhua on Friday that the starting salary for unskilled agri-workers in Finland is currently somewhat under nine euros per hour. However, the level is 10 times more than what the sector pays in Ukraine. “In Finland, this is a low-wages sector.”

Seasonal agricultural workers to Finland have in recent years come mainly from Ukraine. When foreign agri-labor was introduced in the 1990s, migrant workers initially came mainly from Estonia and then Russia.

Since then, Finnish agriculture has relied heavily on non-EU workforce for its basic agricultural needs. This spring, the border closure due to the COVID-19 epidemic has severely afflicted the farm sector. The government’s decision on Friday raised the number of non-EU seasonal workers to 9,000.

The use of non-EU labor benefits Finnish farming. Helsingin Sanomat reported that a strawberry farm in Salo, southwestern Finland, secured a 4 million euro (about 4.44 million U.S. dollars) turnover last year.


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Extension workers backbone of agricultural development says AATF



Dr Issoufou Kollo, the Regional Director, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), West Africa says extension workers remain the hub on which the agricultural development revolves.

Kollo said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja by Alex Abutu, West Africa Communication Officer of AATF.

”As long as the extension workers are in the dark, you don’t have agricultural development, extension is very important for agricultural development.

”It is not only about research but how the research enhances the lives of the people. Agricultural development has two legs – research and extension.

”When researchers finish their work in the laboratory and conduct their on-station and on-farm trials, extension worker or agents will now take over and take the new variety or technology to farmers.

”These agents understand the language of the farmers and are in a better position to introduce them to new varieties of crops,’’ he said.

Kollo said that AATF and the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Ahmadu Bello University had entered into a strategic partnership that would ensure Nigerian farmers take advantages of the PBR Cowpea.

According him, NAERLS can reach all the extension workers in Nigeria and millions of farmers, so it is very good to have collaboration with them.

”Public education is very important as you know. Scientists cannot explain everything to the public, there are other people who have such knowledge.

”So, we choose NAERLS because of their very good network to reach thousands of people at the same time, especially farmers and extension workers,” he added.

Kollo said it was important that smallholder farmers in the country have unhindered access to the PBR Cowpea considering its potential.

He made reference to an ex-ante study conducted by the U. S.-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on the PBR Cowpea which showed that Nigeria would record a revenue increase of more than N48 billion (132 million dollars) annually from the planting of the PBR cowpea.

”The study added that PBR cowpea will benefit Nigerian farmers and consumers, PBR can generate annual benefits equivalent to N26.2 billion for producers N9.2 billion for consumers. PBR cowpea will have an impact on the overall economy.

“We have the data, we didn’t fabricate these data, the data came from farmers managed trials during the National Variety Performance Trials, many farmers have been able to test on their own and compared it to other varieties.

”We have two sets of trials, one is on-station across Nigeria and across different local governments which has been selected by the extension people.

”When you look at the trials, the yield difference between the PBR cowpea and the other varieties of cowpea was about 70 per cent.

The PBR cowpea yielded about 70 per cent higher, then when you look at the farmers managed trials, the yield of PBR cowpea is about 154 per cent superior compared to the yield of the other cowpea varieties,” he said.

Kollo said that Nigeria had about three million hectares of land under cowpea cultivation, adding that if one has 20 per cent yield increase on the three million hectares, imagine the amount of money it could give.

”It is even underestimated on our side of what PBR cowpea can produce in a year.

Annually, about 12 to 15 million hectares of land is cultivated with cowpea worldwide with the Sub Saharan Africa accounting for the bulk of the total area of production (about 12 million hectares).

And Nigeria responsible for about four to five million hectares of total world production area,” she said.

Edited By: Grace Yussuf (NAN)

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