September 6, 2018

Workers in Chemical, Non-Metallic products sector rage over unfriendly policies



By Victor Ahiuma-Young

THOUGH the Federal Government has been trumpeting its ease of doing business policy, but for organised labour in the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products sub-sector of the nation’s economy, unfriendly policies have been frustrating the sector thereby undermining job security and welfare of workers in the sector.

This was the view of the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products, NUCFRLANMPE, at its 27th annual industrial relations seminar, held in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, with the theme: Building Human Resources Capacity for Effective Industrial Relations Practice in a Challenging Economy.

Addressing members of the union and other guests, President of NUCFRLANMPE, Babatunde Olatunji, decried unabated government harsh economic policies that had been dragging the sector backward.

.An example is the ban on production and importation of Codeine and Tramadol because of its abuse without considering the implication of the action on the health of genuine users who use them for treating mild and severe pains arising from bone complications.

The action also adversely affects the pharmaceutical companies who are using it for the production of other drugs. We are pleading with the Federal Government to reconsider the outright ban on production and importation of codeine and tramadol because of the negative consequences on our sector. As we speak, the jobs of over 25,000 direct workers are at risk. Some of our employers have given their indication to downsize workers because of this development.

The nation cannot afford to go ahead with a policy that has the potential to throw over 25,000 workers into the saturated labour market. The implications of throwing such number of workers into the unemployment market will too grave to contend with. It has security and other implications especially because of the army of jobless and able-bodied youths and men who may become willing tools ahead of the 2019 general elections. All we are pleading is for the government to regulate and enforce their usage on medical reasons.

The law enforcement agencies and other regulatory authorities should enforce their production, importation as well as usage and deal with those who abuse their uses including those who sell them to unauthorised users. I believe the best solution would have been to outlaw its sales over-the-counter and ensure its strict compliance by the appropriate law enforcement agency.”

Olatunji also implored the government to discourage high interest and inflation rates that threaten the manufacturing sector’s growth in the country because while operational cost increases, citizens’ purchasing power decreases.

He equally faulted the multiple taxation on manufacturers which he said constituted a big burden to the sector, saying: “We demand that duplicity of levies and multiple taxations should be stopped forthwith. In addition, dearth of infrastructure and erratic power supply, makes it difficult for made-in-Nigeria goods to compete effectively with imported goods. ”

Diversification of revenue base

On the union’s bid to shore up revenue base in the midst of declining check-off dues, the union’s President said: “In our quest for diversification, the Union embarked on construction of a multi-million naira shopping mall & event centre very close to our national secretariat, while we have started working on construction of the abandoned guest house building inside the national secretariat. On this, the leadership of the Union agreed on N8,000 levy per member to be paid between February and May 2018. I am appealing to branches that have not paid or have not completed their payment to do so on time so that the work can commence in earnest.