By Oboh Agbonkhese
LAGOS — Workers in the agricultural sector, on the platform of Nigerian Council of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurants, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association, IUF, yesterday threatened industrial unrest if efforts at making the Federal Government extend the benefits of hazard allowance to them failed.
They lamented that while their counterparts in the livestock and veterinary sub-sector, categorised as health workers, had been enjoying the allowance, the Agricultural and Allied Employees’ Union of Nigeria, AAEUN, had been negotiating for same benefit for the past 15 years without success.
At a briefing in Lagos, Chairman of Nigerian Council of IUF, Mr. Leke Success, said if President Muhammadu Buhari was really interested in diversifying the economy and making agriculture the pillar of national growth and development as he promised, there was need to implement hazard allowance for agricultural workers to motivate the workforce and drive policy implementation.
According to him: “Although it has been argued that technology has reduced the stress associated with agricultural activities, the changes come with new risks related to the operation of sophisticated machinery and exposure to intensive use of pesticides and a variety of agrochemicals.”
He added that a memorandum on the acknowledgement and recommendation for hazard allowance in the salary structure of workers was in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for onward presentation to Federal Executive Council, FEC, before the new administration took over on May 29.
On his part, President of AAEUN, Mr. Simon Anchaver, said a reminder had been written to the Federal Government and that Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, was ready for industrial action if the government pushed agricultural workers to the wall.
For Mr. H. A. Adedoyin, former Chairman of Lagos State Agric Authority chapter of AAEUN, the allowance was long overdue.
He added that extensioners and enumerators faced danger and life-threatening incidences as they interacted with farmers daily.