Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday cautioned the federal and state governments against any bid to slash workers’ salaries on the excuse of the economic crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It urged all its affiliate unions and state branches to resist any salary deduction.
As part of measures to restart the economy, NLC advised the federal and state governments to intensify testing, contact tracing, public fumigation and robust public health education.
It also urged the federal government to build at least a test centre in each state.
NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, cautioned employers against tampering with workers’ salaries, adding that this is not the time to stop or deduct from workers’ salaries.
Wabba, at the commemoration of the 2020 International Workers’ Memorial Day in Abuja, said such an action “would be both illogical and illegal as workers’ salaries are core elements of employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements.”
“This is not the time to stop or deduct from workers’ salaries. Such an action would be both illogical and illegal as workers’ salaries are core elements of employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements.
“We have asked our affiliates and state councils to resist any salary deduction on the account of COVID-19,” he said.
Wabba explained that the current crisis requires employers of labour to show solidarity with the workers.
“In reciprocation of the enormous sacrifice made by workers, we urge employers of labour to show solidarity with the sacrifice of our workers and people by ensuring wage protection, income support and social inclusion at these trying times.
“We reassure our workers that our priority in these trying times remains the cautious, gradual, evidence-led and smart restart of the economy so that our workers can go back to work. We are also completely committed to the recovery of lost jobs, protection of wages, support for income and livelihood and improvement of Nigeria’s social safety net,” he added.
Given the current lockdown and in line with its global realities, Wabba said this year’s May Day would be low keyed.
He, however, added that the union has earmarked some symbolic events, including solidarity visits and gestures to frontline workers.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Stop the Pandemic at Work.”
Wabba described the commemoration as significant coming on the heels of the global fight against the COVID-19.
He praised the contributions of frontline workers, especially those in the healthcare sector to fighting the pandemic.
“As we prepare to restart our economy, we call on the leadership of our industrial unions and state councils to continue working with the different cadres of workers’ leadership in the states and unions to ensure that health and safety facilities and guidelines such as running water, soaps, hand sanitisers, use of protective masks and social distancing are made available and enforced at different workplaces.
“We condole with the families of workers who have paid the supreme price in the fight against COVID-19. We assure you that their labour will not be in vain,” he said.
The federal government has also urged employers of labour to adopt safe practices in the workplace as preventive measures to reduce the risk of exposure of workers to the pandemic.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), at the commemoration of the “World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2020” yesterday in Abuja, urged employers of labour to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, including managing the risks of exposure to infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
He also called on workers to cooperate with their employers, and adopt safe and healthy work behaviour, as part of their respective statutory responsibilities.