Preceding the anticipated resumption of talks between the Federal Government and organized labour regarding the new Minimum Wage, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is convening in Abuja to engage in discussions aimed at determining a living wage that aligns with the prevailing cost of living.
This came as the NLC had vowed not to be deterred by the recent assault on workers and their leaders in Imo State.
The congress stated that such incidents posed a grave threat to freedom of association and collective bargaining, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.
These were contained in the NLC President Joe Ajaero’s welcome address at the Opening Session of the NLC 2023 Harmattan School with the theme: “Building Workers’ Skills for Policy Engagement” in Abuja.
Ajaero, represented by the Congress Deputy President, Benjamin Anthony, said: “In the face of adversity and brutality encountered while advocating for the rights of workers to earn their legitimate income and benefits, our resolve remains unwavering. We are motivated to continue our efforts towards achieving decent work and improving working conditions in the formal and informal sectors of the economy.
“The recent assault on workers and their leaders in Imo State poses a grave threat to freedom of association and collective bargaining as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, and should unequivocally be condemned by all people of goodwill.
“The only thing that can assuage our pains is for the Imo State Government to address all labour issues and return the so-called ‘ghost workers’ to their jobs, pay all outstanding salaries and pensions and call back all victimized workers to their jobs.
“It has become very necessary for governments at all levels to recognize that life and living conditions are exceedingly difficult, especially for working people in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy.”
“The removal of subsidy on petroleum products has further exacerbated the challenges faced by working people, unleashing severe pain and contributing to galloping inflation and increasing inequality and poverty.
“We must reckon that a well-motivated and well-remunerated workforce has a positive impact on productivity and national development,” he added.
He urged participants to approach the training program with a keen desire for knowledge by actively engaging in questioning and exchanging experiences with both facilitators and fellow participants.
Expressing gratitude, he extended thanks to the representative of the Minister of Labour and Employment, the Country Director of the ILO for English Speaking West African Countries, the Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), the Resident Representative of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Country Director of the Solidarity Centre, as well as members of the NAC, CWC, and NEC of the NLC for taking the time to attend the Opening Session of the 2023 School.