WORKERS’ DAY: LABOUR, DIGNITY AND REMUNERATION IN NIGERIA

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By Muhammad Danjuma  Abubakar

The common adage “without labour nothing prospers” cannot be diminished because a nation’s pursuance of prosperity will remain a “chimera” without the contributions of workers. Without workers, private organizations will be defunct; civil service cannot serve the citizens, government programmes and policies will be futile.

Put differently, workers everywhere, are the “Fire” that ignites the engine of the economy;  implementers of government policies and executors of private sectors mission. Owing to these peerless roles, every 1st may of the year is dedicated to celebrate the contributions of these human resources in every country worldwide- including Nigeria. However, beyond the commemoration of this day, the dignity of human labour and good remuneration in most government and private organizations in Nigeria are to painfully fa from reality.

 With relation to the workers in the  public sector, their agitations are mostly not addressed in time by the government until they embark on strikes, when on the negotiation table these workers, her terms are indignifying, agreements reached are not honored as government at all levels keep telling them that it has no resources to address their demands: the same resources that are generated from the collective efforts of these workers; and used to finance costs of governance. In relation to the private sector, workers condition is not better. It’s worse in many private circles, where individual employers of labour arrogate “exclusives personal glory” to themselves for providing jobs when without these crop of workers, their business organizations are nothing beyond lifeless structures. These ‘employers’ use the precarious high rate of unemployment in the country to abuse dignity of labour through poor remuneration for their workers, too many workloads, work beyond official hours and days without overtime allowances, no pension contribution for staff regardless of the year they serve in such organizations.

As a matter of clarity, some few private organizations discharge workers right without default, friendly and infact more conducive to work. But most are hell!

It is highly in-dignifying and demonic a situation where some private organizations give what they produce in ‘value of staff salaries’ sometimes as “substitutes” for their salary. To demystify this further, if instance this writer works in a “leather” producing company,  number of leathers, that worth his monthly salary could be given to him as his salary. [ for the worker to resell for money or keep for domestic use] such as is an extent which some private organizations abuse human labour and dignity in Nigeria citing low sales as excuse!

It is worth noting also that, disregard for human labour and dignity are meted to workers as well by their colleagues, themselves whom are at top echelons within organization(s): using divide and rule, creating perceived enemies to witch-hunt, deny and reverse certain approvals against some fellow staff, slashing of D.T.As  and allowances that staff under them are entitled to, to deliberately mute their voices in order to advance their preconceived agenda.

We must understand that over country cannot develop beyond the welfare and  self-confidence and commitment level of its workforce who are the “lubricants” that “oil” the machinery of every organization (private and public owned); and more generally nation’s economy .

Given this reality, employers – works relationship must be enhanced where both parties must accord regard to each other and see themselves as “Partners in progress”. To guarantee sustainable industrial harmony. Workers through their unions must also be realistic in their demands as government itself must be sincere in her labour related policies and terms during negotiations; a situation where government see workers’ pension contributions as an alternative to borrow to fulfil its obligations is ill-conceived. And a situation where government [ in this case some states ] slash workers’ salaries on the basis of shortfalls without workers’ consent and agreement while government appointees are paid full remuneration is totally at variance with “emotional intelligence” which also grows Corruption in the public sector and dip workers spirit.

Furthermore, more pro-workers legislation should be passed and fully enforced to serve as  “protective butters” for both private and public organization workers. The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund(NSITF), Public Complaints Commission, labour unions and other relevant bodies must step up, beam adequate light on many private organizations and sanction those that engage in anti-labour  actions such as non-contribution of pensions, non-payment of overtime allowance, non-compensation and lack of Medicare for staff who sustain accidents during official work and assignment among others.

Finally, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA ) should be more morally professional to impress on its members to respect human labour, encourage good remuneration as precursors for optimum productivity and deal decisively with any erring member.

HAPPY WORKERS’ DAY NIGERIA!

Muhammad Danjuma Abubakar, a Public Affairs Commentator, Writes from Minna, Niger State. muhammadcares4u@gmail.com   

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily

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