Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Organised labour and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ensure that worker’s job are safeguarded during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking yesterday at the MoU signing ceremony between the NECA and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) at the committee room of labour house, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said nothing has in recent times threatened the shared interests and aspirations of both employers of labour and workers like the novel coronavirus pandemic.
While NECA represented employers in the private sector, the NLC and the TUC represented trade unions and organised labour in Nigeria
The labour movement asked the federal government to provide businesses with palliative, grant and fiscal support incentives, including downward review of tax and interest rates, in order to give the businesses breathing space to maintain production at pre-COVID-19 level and to be able to protect jobs and income.
The labour leaders said they would also work with private sectors through the social dialogue process to prevent further loss of jobs in Nigeria.
Speaking during the signing of the MOU, Wabba said the body’s major concerns were job security, rights at work, social protection and occupational health and safety for all workers in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “While we continue to call on the government and private sector employers to provide adequate protective and preventive facilities at the workplace, we will use the framework of this MoU to ensure that workers who fall ill are supported through paid sick leave to recover and be reinstated safely to their positions at work.”
Wabba added that labour would also defend the existing social protection nets such as pension and gratuity.
“The target sectors include aviation, hospitality, tourism, manufacturing and transportation.
“We will also work with employers in the private sector through the social dialogue process to prevent further loss of jobs in Nigeria, uphold pristine occupational health and safety standards and ensure the promotion of enterprise competitiveness, decent jobs, employment creation and the economic prosperity of Nigeria,” he stated.
NECA, on its part, expressed concerns that over 90 per cent of businesses, irrespective of their sizes, were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Director General of NECA, Timothy Olawale, who was represented by a Deputy Director, Adenike Ajala, urged the government to develop initiatives to boost economic activities and protection of occupational safety and health of workers at work.
On its part, the TUC decried that Nigeria is faced with two pandemics, the COVID-19 and insecurity.
TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, tasked the government on creating more jobs, noting that it would curb the menace of insecurity in the country.
On the issue of job losses, Quadri said: “Creating more jobs is the only solution that can bring everlasting peace in the country. The more we try to engage our youths, the more we have peace.
“Organised labour signed peace agreement that even if people are going to lose their jobs, it should be on reasonable ground, and we are going to give it the humanity in us.”