Asst News Editor
Faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) led by Comrade Joe Ajaero was prevented by the Lagos State Police Command from marking its Workers’ Day celebration at the National Stadium in Surulere.
Consequently, the group observed the Day on the access road leading to the National stadium, with its attendance disruption of vehicular movement in the area.
No reasons were given for the apparent high –handedness of the Police but Daily Champion gathered reliably, that the group had formally written the Lagos State Police Command, including a written letter to the Command, soliciting its support towards providing security for workers during the occasion.
The workers, drawn from 21 industrial unions, chanted solidarity songs and carried placards with various messages including :”Reduce import duty to five per cent for cold roll steel coil and sheet”, Stop fuel importation and save our jobs”, President Buhari,protect our enamel ware industries”.
Ajaero, in his address, condemned the siege laid by the armed mobile policemen to the peaceful gathering of the workers.
He said, “We warn the Inspector General of Police to learn from the misadventure of his predecessors and ensure that he operates within the ambit of the law. We have a fundamental right to peaceful assembly and information. The IG should know that no one can intimidate us not to exercise our fundamental rights.”
Meanwhile, issues of job creation, minimum wage and human capital development dominated commentaries and speeches at the 2015 Workers’ Day celebration held yesterday in Abuja and the 36 states when Nigerian workers joined their counterparts across the world to mark the global event.
Theme for 2015 is: “The Working Class, Democratic Consolidation and Economic Revival: Charting the Way to National Rebirth”.
The colourful ceremony, organized under the aegis of The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) took place at the Eagle Square, Abuja and attracted eminent personalities from all walks of life and also, featured the traditional parade of the various unions.
In a welcome address, the President of TUC, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama urged the in-coming Buhari administration to quickly reverse the present ratio between capital and recurrent expenditure, such that well over 60per cent of the nation’s total revenue projections would be dedicated to the enhancement of social infrastructure and human capital development.
Kaigama said: “The in-coming government must fashion out effective ways of checking wastage of our resources. The massive theft of our oil, the scandalous incidence of money laundering, over-invoicing and double-invoicing of contracts, dumping of foreign goods and excessive borrowing (especially on unfavourable terms), among others, are activities that must be curtailed immediately.
“We also anticipate that the new leadership will provide more socio-economic infrastructure, maintain the existing refineries and building new ones so that we don’t have to import petroleum products in a country that produces petroleum”.
Speaking also at the occasion, the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba hinted that Labour would formally table a request for a new national minimum wage for the consideration of the tripartite social partners, as soon as the in-coming government is sworn in.
“This has become pertinent given current economic realities. We wish to draw the attention of state governments and other employers of labour yet to discharge their obligations under the current national minimum wage regime to immediately ensure that all minimum wage issues are addressed.
“We also wish to use this opportunity to remind those agencies of government and other private sector employers not complying with the provisions of the 2011 National Minimum Wage Act, that they are breaking the law of the land. A government or corporate entity that refuses to obey the law of the land, is surely expressing its preference for anarchy.”
Ayuba lamented that despite sinking a whopping investment in excess of $40 billion for the past 16 years in the power sector, the only proofs that the nation has to show for it, are megawatts of darkness and gigabytes of excuses.