By Bimbola Oyesola
Over 10,000 members of the National Union of Chemical Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE) have lost their jobs in the last one year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of the union, Goke Olatunji, in an interview with Daily Sun, said job losses in the country have continued unabated, worsening the employment crisis confronting Nigeria.
According to him, COVID-19 has worsened several challenges confronting the sector. He noted that many companies in the sector were still threatening to downsize their workerforce as goods had remained in the warehouses unsold as a result of the closure.
He said, “The announcement by the Federal Government on the opening of the borders has not taken effect. Some of the member companies are already lamenting over poor sales, because their products cannot be exported to neighbouring countries.”
Olatunji said government’s closure of the land borders without considering locally-produced products meant for export should be reviewed.
“Nigeria’s economy cannot be better because of the land border closure. By closing land borders, some other sectors of the economy are suffering.
“If the options are weighed, it is good for us to open the borders while putting in place efficient and effective monitoring and controlling measures to curb prohibited commodities,” he said.
He stated that further laying off of workers would impoverish the populace, increase insecurity and cause decline of membership of the union; for the economy to become better, there was the need to return to the basics such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing, said the union leader, arguing that these sectors needed more attention.
He urged government to put in place effective monitoring and control measures at the borders to curb illicit importation and exportation of outlawed commodities, “It is high time we adopted a strategy that would add more value to our products, instead of exporting the commodities in their raw forms.”