Bimbola Oyesola, 08033246177
Organised labour in Nigeria might need to do more in its organising task to give fair representation to workers across all the sectors in the country, says the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC).
This is even as the Somali Trade Federation has commended the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for its role in the formation and continuous existence of the labour centre in the war-torn country.
The ITUC, Africa region, during a visit to the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) in Abuja last week, said the NLC has the capacity to double the number of the organised workers in the country.
Joel Odigie, coordinator, Human and Trade Union Rights, ITUC Africa Regional Organisation, charged MHWUN to support the Ayuba Wabba led NLC executive at trippling the size of the organised workers in Nigeria.
He said, “Part of the assistance that should be given to Ayuba is for the union to be relentless in organising. Organising at the NLC should be given more emphasis, now the number is six million, but I believe that we can have 18 million. This can be done within a year.”
He maintained that more workers were waiting to be organised, and as such the labour movement in Nigeria should move beyond the union to other sectors like the private and informal sectors.
Speaking on the support that the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) has got from Nigeria, the general secretary of the federation, Omar Faruk Osman, said his visit to Nigeria was to express appreciation to the NLC and the union that produced the NLC president.
“Nigeria has been speaking for Somalia in the United Nations. Kenya was expected to give us support when the federation was formed, but we didn’t get it, but NLC came to our aid,” he said.
The national president of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, assured the ITUC that workers and the union have always given the NLC president the necessary support to ensure that he succeeds in his mandate at home and internationally.
“Ayuba is part and parcel of this union, this is his base. The union has not been as successful as we are now, Ayuba Wabba is the one that made our union what it is today. His feet fits the shoe, wherever he goes to represent labour,” he said, adding that the union, over the years, has always respected and honoured its past leaders whom the present leaders see as elders as, they are still very relevant in guiding the union.
The MHWUN president noted that the union was happy in respect of Wabba’s global record, and the MHWUN would stand with the NLC president in his support for Somalia and others on the continent.
Biobelemoye noted that the union had almost three million organised members presently in the public sector, while efforts are on to organise the health workers in the private sector.
“We are not surprised where we are today, though not all our members are paying check-off, as most states and local governments are owing our members. But we know we are yet to reach our potential,” he said.