It is only when critical stakeholders in labour movement collaborate with a singular sincerity of purpose that the employers of labour would fully implement the new minimum wage of N30,000, United Labour Congress (ULC) has said.
President of ULC, Joe Ajaero, who stated this during the just-concluded International Labour Conference (ILC), in Geneva Switzerland, charged labour not to have the impression that getting employers especially state governments to implement the law will be an easy task.
He added that states must be segregated and fought separately by different layers of unions in Nigeria, to ensure faithful implementation of the law.He stated: “So, we should go back to Nigeria and do our homework. We should not be seen as saints in Nigeria, while suffering. So, we should go back to Nigeria and put our house in order.”
Ajaero also faulted the non-registration of ULC by government saying, “The former Minister was wrong in what he said about the non-registration of ULC, because he was hinging that on the attainment of 12 new unions. That is why he was saying there were few unions remaining for the ULC to be registered. The law is very clear that 12 unions can form a centre, but the Minister refused to recognise existing unions, and instead is talking about forming 12 new unions.”
That is a complete breach of Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution, which says that everybody has a right to belong to a political party of his choice, a religion of his choice, and a union of his choice.”
The ULC President also bemoaned inadequate number of labour inspectors in Nigeria, which lead to lack of factory inspection and increasing cases of anti-labour practices.
He said: “Most of the occupational hazards take place in the private sector, and the major problem we have is poor regulation by the Nigerian state. Before now, we used to have factory inspectors that go round to check safety facilities, and to ensure factories are run professionally. But government is no longer doing much in terms of regulation.
Government behaves more like employers and that is why we have this battle with them. If we have good standard for setting up factories, we will not have so many conflicts.
“For example, in the power sector, you can see the number of electrocution rising on daily basis, because employers are going for cheap labour without safety materials. You see people climbing poles without safety booths. When you don’t have safety materials and no proper training, and the so-called factory inspectors cannot even visit any factory in the power sector to find out whether they have the necessary gadgets. If that continues, the number of death will be very high. It is a battle between employers and us, and when you complain to the government agency that is concerned, they act in cahoots with the employers. So, the tripod that should exist in industrial relations does not exist in Nigeria. You have two; and until we come together and realise that these people that are dying as a result of this unprofessional practice by Nigerian citizens who are paying tax, we will continue to pay lip service to occupational health and safety.”