By Victor Ahiuma-Young
ORGANISED Labour, yesterday, rejected Federal Government’s decision to pursue its no work, no pay policy, especially in the essential services sector of the economy.
According to Labour, government should address issues that cause strikes and stop chasing shadows.
Speaking through the United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, labour insisted that when agreements were respected, salaries and allowances paid as at when due, conditions of service honoured, and made conducive, strikes would be minimised, if not eradicated.
ULC in a statement by its President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, called on the National Assembly to resurrect the bill criminalising the non-payment of salaries in Nigeria.
“If workers’ salaries are guaranteed, the spate of strikes will surely reduce and the worries of the minister and the Federal Government would have been largely addressed,” Labour said.
While expressing shock over the Federal Government’s latest antics through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, Labour noted: “This is very unfortunate, especially coming from a Labour Minister who understands the objective realities under which Nigerian workers live and work.
“We understand the frustration of the minister over the spate of industrial crisis in the country but we would have thought that the minister should have properly situated the dynamics of these issues and how they eventually led to crisis.”
‘’If he had properly queried it, he would have had a better understanding of what was the best way to engage it creatively and effectively.
“The Minister and those canvassing this choice should be advised that Nigerian workers do not enjoy going on strike as it is more tasking both physically and psychologically. The people that force Nigerian workers to go on strike should be held responsible.
‘’The Minister should actually look for ways of ensuring that the employers who cheat on their workers and deny them their rights and privileges as workers are punished. We had truly thought that the concern of the Minster should have been to seek ways to ensure that those who deny workers their wages are severely punished as it is done in other countries to avert strikes which the Minister seems so worried about.
“We had thought that the Minster should be worried that workers are owed up to seven months in arrears of salaries and are still expected to work. We are surprised that the Minister is not worried about the mass sack of workers from our workplaces without recourse to the provisions of the laws which the Ministry ought to be the custodian and protector.
‘’We are surprised that the Minister is occupied with seeking ways to punish the victim of workplace abuse and deprivation, rather than seeking to stop the perpetrators.
“Very soon, we shall be forced to demand from our employers, especially the governments, payment for any time they force us to embark on strike to press home the drain that it has become to us as Nigerian workers.
‘’The Minister should await this demand as we put finishing touches to the proposal which we are still working upon. This is to dissuade the government from refusing to act timely on workplace grievances, thus forcing us to embark on these dehumanising strikes.
‘’ULC will want to use this opportunity to call on the National Assembly once again to resurrect the Bill criminalising the non-payment of salaries in Nigeria. If workers’ salaries are guaranteed, the spate of strikes will surely reduce and the worries of the Minister and the Federal Government would have been largely addressed.
“ We are sure that being on the same page with the honourable Minister of Labour on this desire to reduce strikes, we shall invite the Minister to partner with us to lobby the National Assembly to ensure that this laudable Bill is re-introduced in the floors of the NASS chambers.
‘’All sources of strikes must be seriously engaged in Nigeria and the Minister should be in the fore front while we pledge our support as he seeks to criminalise unpaid salaries in Nigeria which will help us reduce strikes.’’
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