We May Confront FG To Review Workers’ Wages – Wabba | Independent Newspapers Limited
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We May Confront FG To Review Workers’ Wages – Wabba

Posted: Jun 22, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ayuba Wabba is the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). At a time when some states are bankrupt and unable to pay workers’ salaries, the apex workers union have given indication that it might confront the Buhari led administration to review wages. At the 104th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, he spoke to Sylvester Enoghase and Innocent Oweh on a wide range of issues bothering on the economy, persistent fuel scarcity, emerging challenges confronting the working class as a result of the naira devaluation and other sundry matters. Excerpt



At the moment, Nigeria is in a precarious situation, going by current challenges occasioned by dwindling oil prices and naira devaluation, how prepared is the NLC to provide leadership, particularly in seeing to resolution of some of these challenges?

First as an organised labour or NLC, we are aware of the daunting challenges especially in our economy and in our social life which has brought a lot of dislocation, we are obviously aware of that and part of our responsibility is to effectively respond to some of these challenges so that our immediate constituency and the larger society would not be at the receiving end of those policies.

It is true that our currencies have been devaluated over time due to the fallen price of crude oil which is our major source of revenue and these have also affected the revenue accruing to government and this will invariably affect the provision of social services and developmental processes, but we are all mindful of these, that is why for every challenge in life there must be an alternative solution.

As I said in our media central working committee we have constituted a noble committee of experts they are working on alternatives to some of these challenges, in fact the report is ready.

Everything in life has what you can term as alternatives. Therefore there is no policy as good as it is or as bad as it is that we cannot have a human face to some of these policies that can cushion the effect on first our immediate constituency the working class and the larger Nigerian public who will be at the receiving end.


Improvement in the world of work seems to be the focal point of this conference; can you tell us how the Labour centres in Nigeria have contributed to discussions at this 104th ILO conference?

Globally labour has a standard and part of why we are here is to look at what is the global best practice in terms of decent work agenda, in terms of occupational health and safety, remuneration, application of standards even in terms of collective bargaining.

That is why we have ILO conventions specifically 87 and 98 which set standards for how labour issues will be discussed, so part of why we are here is to align ourselves to the best global practice in terms of responding to some of those challenges and therefore it’s not a wasted effort for all of us to be here.


What would be your take home from this conference when it comes to an end?

We are here to sharpen our skill and also fit into the global system of managing labour and industrial relation issues. So basically we are beneficiaries of these process and it’s also a tripartite system where you have employers and the government participating in this process and therefore all of us must conform ourselves to what we refer to as international global practice in labour and trade union administration.

So part of our take home from here, you also realise that most of our members have participated actively in all the four committees.  For instance, I have participated effectively in the committee on application of standard. We have made several interventions.

I know some of them have participated on the committee on SMEs; the one on the formalisation on the informal economy and that of social protection.

One issue we can take home from here is the fact that we have sharpened our skills to engage those challenges, those issues because we are not also isolated as Nigeria. Those challenges facing the global economy are also what affect other countries.

In the same global world, some other countries are talking of reviewing their wages because they also need to empower the workers, those are some of the take home for us and they advanced good reasons why that should take place, because those issues are global issues. What drives development across the world is the labour component.

Labour creates the wealth through industrialisation and therefore those are issues. As a country we need to queue into that if our quest for development and transformation is anything to go by.

We must then go back to the basis of creating those wealth through meaningful employment and through making our industries work by industrialisation policies.

Those are some of our take home from this ILO conference and certainly it’s going to give us an edge in addressing some of these challenges.