The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday, berated the federal government for not keeping to agreements with Nigerian workers, despite the patience demonstrated by the labour unions.
This was contained in a statement by Joe Ajaero, President of the NLC, who concluded that the year 2023 has undoubtedly tested the collective strength and resilience of Nigerians.
Ajaero noted that members of the Union “have faced uncertainties, overcome obstacles, and witnessed moments that may have left them feeling disheartened.”
The NLC leader who noted that 2023 witnessed two major agreements signed between the federal government and NLC and TUC, added that “Whether these have been faithfully implemented or not is open for every discerning Nigerian to see.
“We have demonstrated enormous patience with this government and has been accused and labelled as having been settled by the government but we recognize that this is part of the burden of leadership which we are prepared to bear to ensure that we do not only take the right actions but that they yield the expected results keeping our nation surviving as an entity and avoiding fifth columnists from taking advantage of the situation to destroy our nation,” Ajero said.
“In all of these, this government has shown enormous unfaithfulness in keeping to agreements; the N35,000 Wage Award has not been faithfully implemented, the Port Harcourt PH, refinery has not come on stream as projected while the National Minimum Wage Negotiation Council has not been inaugurated as agreed, the Compressed Natural Gas CNG project has been distorted by agents of government for the benefit of a few.”
The NLC leader also noted that divisions along various primordial fault lines rather than heal has also became exacerbated this year mainly as a result of the unfortunate activities of Politicians who played them up in their bid to win elections.
” Our nation has therefore become more divided than ever with growing suspicion and increasing trust deficits along those lines. Citizens’ confidence in the government is therefore deeply wounded causing further disconnect between the people and governments as government continues with policies that negate the welfare of citizens.
” We observe only few pockets of progress in governance in some states but largely, the instruments of governance are mainly deployed for the sole benefits of those who believe they have captured the instruments of governance thus use them for their sole benefit”.
The NLC revealed that more violence has been witnessed in 2023, following increasing use of violence and unrivaled propaganda as tools of engagement in the nation’s industrial relations sphere.
“The boundary between the tools used in electioneering and in actual governance seems to have been ruptured as the same mindless violence and crudity witnessed during the last election cycle is now being used by those in government as a weapon in managing workplace relations in Nigeria.
“We have witnessed government’s interference in the internal affairs of trade unions all in a bid to capture the levers of power in these unions and use them to seek to hold the civic space in our nation hostage and thwart citizens efforts at holding the government accountable.
The NLC noted however, that in the face of this seeming hopelessness, ” we firmly believe that together, we can make 2024 better.
“The spirit of unity and solidarity that defines our great nation has seen us through numerous trials in the past, and it will undoubtedly guide us towards a brighter future.
“That future can only come with our resolve to act together as we reposition ourselves to act better and more creatively to grapple with the forces that are holding our nations down in a cesspool of underdevelopment and misery.
Ajaero maintained that the Nigeria Labour Congress is committed to providing the necessary leadership to ensure that ” we responsibly hold the government accountable and nudge it towards working for the benefit of the majority.
“To this end, NLC will be committed in 2024 towards ensuring that a living wage becomes possible for all Nigerian workers by working with others to secure a National Minimum Wage that approximates to the dictates of the various parameters that make incomes humane and grants access to basic necessities of life for the average worker.
“We will recommit to building workplaces that guarantees the rights and privileges of workers while building the basis for continuous wealth creation for our nation. All actions that will therefore ensure that Decent work gaps are reduced to their barest minimum will be encouraged. We will therefore strengthen our collaboration with the federal ministry of Labour, NECA and the TUC using the tripartite process to regulate the Industrial Relations space and ensure that the reviewed labour administration laws are forwarded to the National Assembly for passage into Law.
He also assured that the Labour Unions will work in collaboration with civil society partners to generate frameworks that will build stronger and more robust civic space which ensures that our voices are heard at all times and used to check and assist the government to take the right actions that will make governance more effective and beneficial for the majority of the citizenry.
According to him, “NLC will seek to work with partners and patriots everywhere to pursue the creation of more effective structures to protect the institutions of democracy in Nigeria. We shall to this end join hands with other willing forces to begin work at strengthening our leadership recruitment processes especially the electoral framework in Nigeria. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that credibility is restored to our elections which is the foundation for enthroning a more responsive and responsible government that remains accountable thus totally anchored on the people.
“Much more, we will engage Government to ensure that the agreement it reached with us in our last negotiations especially the October 2nd Agreement are implemented.”