By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE economic recession in the country has compounded challenges facing the unions as they strive to survive and service members to remain relevant in the scheme of things.
To cope with emerging exigencies of the time, National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees, NUCFRLANMPE, recently held a three-day training at Sango-Otta, Ogun State, with the theme: “Developing Leadership Skills for Effective Union Management”, for Central Working Committee, CWC, National Executive Council, NEC, members and officials of the union.
Welcoming participants, president of the union, Mr. Babatunde Olatunji, said the training was aimed at imparting leadership skills to officials of the union. According to him, to broaden the knowledge of the members of the union, “the new leadership places the training of its members as a priority because knowledge is power, hence the need to organize this workshop for our members. I want to assure you that under my leadership, training of our members is going to be on regular basis.”
He pleaded with participants to take the training seriously because “every session is very important. I request 100 percent co-operation and punctuality from all of us. Let us engage all issues; contribute meaningfully and ask questions where necessary.”
Participants were drilled on “Trade unionism in Nigeria: NUCFRLANMPE experience”, “Trade Unionism in Nigeria: History and Development”, “Collective Bargaining and Enforcement of Collective Agreement”, “Labour Laws, Instrument and Framework in Industrial Relations/ Leadership: Contemporary Issues”, “Labour, Economy and Politics in Nigeria/Leadership 2: Contemporary Issues”, “Union History, Constitution and Structure: Ethics Values and Principles”, and “Organizing, Mobilizing and Activism for Effective Unionism”.
Presenting the paper on Trade unionism in Nigeria: NUCFRLANMPE experience, former president of the union, Mr. Gbadebo Moses, among others, lamented that government policies and laws were having untold impact on the effectiveness of the union and others especially in the areas of right to strike, dignity of labour, health and safety in the work place, expatriate quota abuse among others.
He advised leaders of the union to be watchful and prepared because employers would do anything to maximize profit and weaken union members through contract staffing, outsourcing, casualisations among others, stressing,“Employers will make efforts to infiltrate our ranks to cause disharmony, cost minimization for profit maximization at the expense of the hen that lay the golden eggs. The only solution is for union to focus on education and development of staff, members and all the officials on the issues that are relevant to the growth, and survival of the union.” He urged members to unite and imbibe “the spirit of injury to one is injury to all.”
Similarly, presenting the paper on Collective Bargaining and Enforcement of Collective Agreement, a deputy general secretary of National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, Mr. Ismail Bello, who took participants through the collective bargaining process, declared that “Negotiation is a process through which parties move from their divergent positions to a point where agreement may be reached. Achieving this comes through a process that includes preparing, packaging, bargaining, agreeing or disagreeing, signing and closing
He warned that “when you negotiate remember always never to negotiate alone, never make a deal without agreement of members and maintain unity while negotiating,” adding, “We must recognize the limitations of collective bargaining as a distribution mechanism. It is about power, which is often not equally shared. With current economic crisis and changing management practices collective bargaining can hardly alter the existing pattern of income inequalities.”
Thus the unions and the NLC must address the political question in terms of workers participation and active involvement with the state in the formulation and implementation of broad macro-economic issue that impact on labour welfare and the general well-being of the people.”