Labour Calls For People-oriented Policy On Sustainable Development | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Business, Labour & Employment

Labour Calls For People-oriented Policy On Sustainable Development

Posted: May 29, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Stories by Sylvester Enoghase, Lagos


The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate policies that would ensure a robust engagement between the labour movement and government in redefining a new agenda to evolve policies that are people-oriented for sustainable development

NLC’s President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who in an agenda mission, urged President Buhari to focus on job security as well as standardising the social dialogue system to stem inequality and the brewing social discontent, saying that the call is necessary because the country in recent times has been confronted with apparent fiscal and structural challenges exacerbated by low returns on oil price.

He said: “Despite the country’s wealth, Nigeria remains ironically a country with a high level of economic growth co-existing with a high level of poverty and inequality. While this growth is skewed towards enabling the rich to get richer no attempt is made to ensure that the wealth trickles down to the extreme poor.

“The most affected have been workers and working families under the yoke of poor remuneration, uncertainty in the workplace, absence of reasonable social benefits, vulnerable work conditions and retrenchments.”

On economic growth, the labour leader said: “We demand an economy that provides jobs and other benefits. Similarly, we demand a halt to the de-industrialization process and the free fall of the Naira.  We believe the restoration of the textile industry will be a good starting point.”

He noted that the development of an industrial policy that revives and harnesses the potentials of iron and steel and petrochemical complexes as well as the establishing of national ICT centres are both desirable and necessary.

According to Ayuba, one of the major causes of protracted industrial actions in the educational and health sectors, as well as in other work situations, has been a distortion in the tenets of Collective Bargaining by government’s consistent observance of a breach in Collective Agreements.

“It is our view that democracy is nurtured and sustained by social dialogue for the proper articulation and aggregation of interests, due process and the rule of law. Thus, government and other employers must respect agreements mutually reached with trade unions as failure to do this portends an invitation to a basket of strikes and anarchy,” he said.

Ayuba, who emphasised that social and economic injustice and inequality have been further deepened at work place through  casualization and contract labour both in the public and private sectors, said: “While we will consistently and decisively confront this hydra-headed monster, we call on government to cooperate with us to eliminate this obnoxious practice by ensuring that employers who violate the extant laws on employment are brought to book.”

He, however, said that in a society predicated on social justice and dignity of labour, the practice of slave-labour and under-employment should be condemned and eliminated.

Meanwhile,  the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria(TUC) has advocated the need for President  Buhari to ensure  independence of judiciary in the country.

President of the Congress,Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, said the development was necessary in order to tackle corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigeria.

He said the judiciary should be placed on the first-line charge for budgetary allocations, just like the executive and the legislature.

’’Furthermore, just as appointment and promotion of judicial officers by the executive is on recommendation/approval of the National Judicial Council and/or the legislature, so also should the executive have no power to sack any judicial officer without the recommendation/approval of the Council and/or the legislature.

‘’Similar policy should apply in the case of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the chairmen of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), as well as other public officers whose official independence need to be protected by law if they are to perform their duties conscientiously without fear or favour”, he said.

According to Kaigama ,the  two anti-graft bodies – the EFCC and the ICPC – should be strengthened and statutorily empowered to arrest and prosecute culprits without any recourse to any other authority.

He emphasised that  a comprehensive review of the anti-corruption laws and the body of laws relating to finance and the economy is highly recommended to make them meet the challenges of present-day Nigeria.

He further said plea bargaining should not be available to persons indicted of corruption.

He  however said: ’’It would also serve the nation well to have a law which not only provides for every public office holder to declare his assets on assuming office, but also stipulates that he must repeat the exercise each subsequent year that he is in office and not later than three months after vacating the office.  All such declarations should be published in three national daily newspapers and not just to the Code of Conduct Bureau.”