By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – President, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has vowed to mobilise 207 million workers across 163 countries against corrupt leaders who cannot pay workers’ salaries yet divert and stash stolen wealth abroad for personal use.
Wabba made the vow on Sunday at a surprise reception organised at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja by Medical and Health Workers’ Union (MHWUN) to welcome him back from Denmark where he was elected President of International Trade Union Confederation.
Speaking on the value his emergence as the new ITUC President will bring to the country, he said: “It is a victory for Nigerian workers that have been toiling to create the wealth of this nation yet go home with little or no pay.
“It is high time our politicians, looters and elites realise that once they loot our resources and leave Nigerian airports for overseas, with our collaboration with airport workers around the world, we’ll mobilise people to turn them back.
“If they will not use our health facilities but go elsewhere, they should be sure they will get a reception that is not funny. No hiding place for anybody that wants to loot our resources and take it abroad and not pay workers’ wages, salaries, and pensions.”
On government’s perennial threat to apply the ‘No work, no pay’ principle in industrial disputes, Wabba said: “That principle has no place in modern industrial relations. It has its basis on military decree 54 of 1977 (now in section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act). No government in Nigeria has ever implemented the ‘No work, no pay’ principle because it cannot be looked at in isolation of the factors that brought about the disputes.
“Government cannot have a solid collective bargaining engagement and renege on the agreements. Then, turn back to say it wants to apply the ‘No work, no pay’ principle. Such contradiction is strange to mother justice and cannot stand.”
On the widening inequality between the rich and the poor in Nigeria, the NLC President queried: “If we are the leading economy in Africa, why should Nigerian workers be receiving the lowest wages in the continent? Nigerian workers and pensioners are the most impoverished in the world. It is another contradiction in our system. If there is abundance in the nation, the workers and their families should have a taste and feel of it as well.”
Wabba further assured the workers that his elevation would translate “to more work, more action, more challenges, and more proactive steps in the promotion and protection of the interest of Nigerian workers
“Initially we were alone but now we have alliance in over 163 countries with a total 207 million members that we can give instructions and they will mobilise in unity and solidarity with the Nigerian workers who are the most underpaid globally even in the midst of our abundance.”