At ITUC Conference, Wabba Canvases Living Wage for Workers 

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The president of the International Trade Union Confederation, Nigeria’s Comrade Ayuba Wabba has made a case for countries around the world to implement policies that will regularly put worker’s wage at par with their productive capacity.

He lamented that global increase in labour productivity had not translated to living wages.

Speaking at the ongoing 5th ITUC Congress in Melbourne, Australia, Wabba noted that while the desired wage outcome was living wages, so many countries especially countries of the Global South still struggled to pay minimum wage.

He said: “In order for the future of work we are building to be sustainable, we must pay attention to equality and inclusion. Care work must be paid for. We must promote equal pay for work of equal value. We must commit to freeing workplaces from sexual harassment and violence.

“And we must remove the barriers to economic and social development which stop progress in so many countries.

From the perspective of my continent, Africa, to realise the SDGs we need a greater inclusion of trade unions in development processes through stronger social dialogue practices and institutions, ensuring workers can contribute to shape policies to fight poverty and inequalities”.

According to Wabba, “the last World Inequality Report, the richest 1% took 38% of all additional wealth accumulated since the mid-1990s, whereas the bottom 50% captured just 2% of it”.

In addition, Wabba said that the poorest half of the world’s population possesses only 2% of the total wealth, while the richest 10% owns 76%.

“There can never be Social Justice without Social Protection. 75% of workers all over the world are outside the Social Protection net. There is no justification for this as just 0.25% of the global Gross Domestic Product would close the social protection gap,” he said

Wabba who is also the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said that inclusive development must be backed by investment, and by changing the rules that dominate the international financial institutions and system to enable countries to achieve equitable and sustainable development.

“I think this perspective from Africa also has global relevance.

Sisters and Brothers, we are battling a debilitating climate emergency, with extreme weather conditions that have defied thresholds maintained for hundreds of years.

“The scorching heat which rose to unprecedented levels this summer, the flooding of whole regions in Pakistan, Nigeria, Europe, Australia, and many parts of the world in recent years, to the severe drought in East and Central Africa, parts of Asia and to the recurring rage of wildfires across Europe, South America, and USA, show we live in dire times.

“Despite these existential threats, corporate greed continues to stand in the way of the actualization of the global commitments to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. Fossil capitalism must be stopped in its tracks,” he said.

The labour further said that the processes that were at the heart of the green economy must respect international labour standards.

“A case in hand is the use of child labour in Congo DRC to mine cobalt which is one of the key raw materials used in the manufacture of lithium batteries. We condemn this modern form of slavery and demand that cobalt produced under barbaric and slavish conditions should be treated as blood diamonds,” he said.

The ITUC president also weighed in on the Russian-Ukraine war, cities in Ukraine which he said had resulted in deaths in thousands, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and displacement of more than 6.2 million Ukrainians.

“We call for an end to the brutal war against the people and workers in Ukraine. We condemn the overt and covert threat to deploy nuclear weapons. We demand that the UN Charter on territorial integrity and sovereignty must be respected. Peace must come to Ukraine, and it must come with justice,” he said.

Wabba also called for the cessation of hostilities in other parts of the world where conflict is ongoing. 

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