As organised labour seems to have reached a crossroads with the Federal Government over the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage, Nigeria workers are now seeking support from the global labour body, Uniglobal.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of two-day, 21st Uni-Africa executive committee meeting in Lagos last week, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC), Ayuba Wabba, said the major problem that Nigerian workers were grappling with now is government’s inability to implement the new wage.
Wabba who was represented by the general secretary of the NLC, Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson, lamented that it took members of the labour movement three years to complete the negotiations, whose implementation is now being stalled by the consequential adjustment of the salary scales.
He said, “We must be ready for the struggle ahead and would require the support of Uniglobal in that struggle.”
The new Trade Union Congress (TUC) president, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, in his address, tasked Uniglobal to make issues affecting workers in Africa their major concern wherever the opportunity presented itself, like the meeting held in Nigeria.
“The world of work is taking a new shape and workers’ body like Uniglobal need to impress on government and employers to have human face in their policies,” he said.
The secretary-general of Uniglobal, Christine Hofman, who said the meeting was her first in Africa after her election last year and her first time to visit Nigeria, condemned the fact that workers have continued to struggle against the odds to win at the bargaining table or bargain at all.
Hofman, who said membership of the global union cut across all spheres of human endeavour, also lamented what she described as shameful inequality of income and wealth.
“In fact, did you know that only 28 people own half of the world’s wealth? It will take all of us pulling together to fix these problems. And at UNI we are doing our best to play a role to turn the tide for workers,” she said.
She stated that Uniglobal was committed to the International Labour Organisation declaration, which sees a future with social justice, human centered future, with workers and social dialogue at the core.
She maintained that it was through organising and union power that workers’ groups can break the resistance of the multinationals and other local companies in the protection of workers right.
“It is on all of our shoulders to safeguard dignity at work, to hold big employers accountable, to win our fair share, and to make the world a better place. We are stronger together. Together we can change the world,” she said.
Earlier, Oyinkan Olasanoye, the president of the Association of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions, who is also a member of the executive committee of Uniglobal Africa and the convener, said Nigeria was hosting the event for the first time in 21 years.
She reasoned that some other African countries and others outside the continent had the misconception that Nigeria was bedeviled with security issues, which was the more reason they were invited to the country to correct the views.
“Now that you have been here and seen things for yourself, the next time you come into the country, we will be able to shower you with more Nigerian hospitality and take you around to places of cultural interest,” she said.