Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has advised federal government and other employers of labour to ensure that issues relating to workers’ welfare are given utmost priority and resolved in good time before degenerating into crisis.
Wabba, who lamented that workers have been at the receiving end, despite the fact they occupy important positions among the factors of production, urged the government to put in place a national social dialogue forum to address labour’s welfare disputes.
He added that most times government and employers of labour attempted to resolve labour disputes in an ad hoc manner, which has achieved little or no result.
Wabba, who accused government and employers of labour of encouraging anti-labour policies, stated this yesterday at the formal inauguration of the International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network (Nigeria’s Chapter) in Abuja.
“There should be a dialogue and by ILO standard, all the members of the tripartite committee, including labour must be on equal footing. I think for some years this has been lacking.
“I have always said that two of the strongest pillars of democracy are civil society and organised labour. If they are weakened, our democracy will also be weakened,” he said.
Speaking on the need for lawyers-workers’ union synergy, Wabba said the two are both critical stakeholders in the quest for human rights and justice.
“Human rights and trade union rights are interwoven and therefore lawyers that are into labour issues are themselves activists. It is the same passion that guides the lawyers in what they are doing,” he added.
He pointed out that with the inauguration of the local chapter of the Network, workers could now expect greater networking in seeking justice over their rights and welfare, adding that the Network would further ensure that lawyers who try to defend workers’ rights and trade union rights do so in a more coordinated manner.
He regretted that even though workers’ rights are guaranteed by laws and global conventions, these rights have most often been undermined by employers of labour for various reasons.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Board of International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network, Jeffry Vogt, had assured that his group would assist Nigeria in developing labour -friendly laws that would make the work place safe and reassuring.