By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS—NEWLY launched labour centre, United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, yesterday, vowed to engage the government at all levels to generate appropriate policies and programmes to cushion the suffering and hardship Nigerians are passing through in the past few years.

This came as it gave notice of its intention to confront finance institutions, telecommunication companies and other employers perceived to have penchant for violating the rights and privileges of workers in Nigeria through flagrant disregard of labour and trade union laws.

ULC in a new year message by its President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, assured Nigerians and workers of its commitment to work creatively with governments at all level towards effective governance and building a Nigeria that would rekindle the hope of the citizens and guarantee the benefits of nationhood to all Nigerians.

He said: “We shall intensify our effort through the various platforms we are currently involved in, especially the 16-man Federal Government Technical Committee to revisit the high cost of petroleum products in Nigeria and to ensure that the general challenges bedevilling the energy sector are constructively engaged.

“The Assembly (ULC), therefore, calls on the Federal Government to make this committee more effective and empower it to conclude its work quickly.

“The Assembly (ULC) is focused on working with the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Labour to put in place various regulations and working with the NASS to make appropriate laws that would address the diverse lawlessness of both foreign and local employers in our workplaces.

“Unilateral sacks and illegal retrenchments will be tackled head-on while the use of casual and contract workers will be seriously tackled to create a Nigerian workplace that is compliant with the decent work agenda.

“The ULC shall work assiduously with the Federal Government for an upward review of the national minimum wage to N96,000 per month which has been long overdue. We shall seek greater coverage of the minimum wage to include all Nigerian workers, whether working in the formal or informal sectors.”

“In this light, we shall work towards designing a wage scheme that would be automatically self-adjusting, just like it is done in other advanced nations of the world bearing in mind that in the United States, as just yesterday, the minimum wage automatically went upwards from $8 per hour to $11per hour.

“This is a national increase of about 37.5 percent in a nation with declining inflation and low cost of living.  We shall get involved in assisting governments implement their respective budgets through effective budget monitoring framework and shall constitute a nation-wide committee using our respective state councils in conjunction with other civil society organisations to monitor budget implementation both at the federal and state levels.

This, the Assembly believes will help government plug all leakages in their budget implementation processes.”

Commending the Federal Government and the military in their various victories against the Boko Haram insurgents especially its recent victory in the Sambisa forest battle, ULC urged “Government to deploy the same zeal in protecting the lives and properties of citizens across Nigeria who are mindlessly being mowed down by death merchants in Kaduna and in other hotspots in the country.

We also wish that this same zeal is deployed to clinically deal with the battle against corruption. It is time that governments at all levels craft responsive and effective strategies to combat the current hardship in the country. Nigerians truly are yearning for a reprieve from the grip of mass hunger and deprivation.”

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