•Says mass unemployment looms
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Nsukka
The Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), yesterday, said that mass unemployment looms in the country following epileptic power supply that is hampering the operations of industries.
National President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke who raised the alarm at the SSANU 2015 National Delegate Conference holding at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State, said many industries have started laying off workers which has adverse effects on the the country.
Comrade Ugwoke also berated state governors that recently said that they would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the possibility of stopping the payment of the agreed N18,000 minimum wage, saying that such plan was unreasonable.
According to him: “The nation’s economy would be better when we have the right people at the right places. We looked at the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and we’ve seen the effect.
“What some of us thought was that they would have made a trial elsewhere with one or two ministries to see how it wiould go before applying it at the national level.”
He further lamented over the perennial fuel scarcity in the country, noting that as a country that produces oil, there was no reason for the people of Nigeria to witness such scarcity.
He said: “Up till now, we are still having fuel scarcity because the government had not done what it is supposed to do. We are talking about anti-corruption; we have not seen anything there.
“That one or two people have been prosecuted is not enough to say we are fighting corruption. There is still oil bunkering, people are stealing the crude oil; a country that produces oil does not have oil. I bought fuel at almost N200 in Nigeria, and we are talking about economy.
“Industries will sack their workers sooner or later because there is no power; the power level is still low. An economy that is generator-based cannot guarantee companies to produce at 100 percent, and it is the workers who are suffering.
“So if a businessman cannot make profit, he will reduce workers and these people will come back to be unemployed, increasing the poverty level in the country. So government must look at the economy; we must go agro-base. We are blessed with arable land, including 6 to 10 months rain.
“So, why can’t we feed ourselves and other African countries? Even as we produce quality graduates, we can export them for money, and the economy will be boosted; and a situation where Chinese vulcanizers will come to Nigeria and be called engineers is not acceptable,” he said.
The SSANU President described state governors contemplating to jettison the minimum wage agreed between government and the organised labour as being unreasonable.
He said that the Nigerian workers live on credit system where they take loan from cooperative societies to solve immediate family problems which leave them with nothing to go home with at the end of the month as the loans are always deducted at source.
Declaring that the issue of payment of the minimum wage was not negotiable, Ugwoke said the organised labour had passed the issue of minimum wage as what was paramount presently was the review of the agreement the labour entered into with the government.
In a solidarity message at the occasion, General Secretary of Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU,) Comrade Peters Adeyemi said unions must collectively fight against the introduction of the neo-liberal approach to industrial relations in the university system.
He said, “At the heart of neo-liberal approach to industrial relations is deregulation of collective bargaining, limited intervention of the state in industrial relations and encouragement of individualism as against collectivism.