National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees, NUCFRLANMPE, has said it lost no fewer than 10,000 members in the last year.
President of the union, Babatunde ‘Goke Olatunji, in a chat lamented that the chemical and leather sector had “not been receiving the desired attention from the government and as such, its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, has continually dropped. Government policies and others are not favourable to the sector. Like other sectors, chemical and leather sector in the last one year suffered unhealthy competition with foreign goods while local production is bedevilled with lack of power, insufficient infrastructure, no good roads, difficulty accessing forex. Some other constraints to its viability are insecurity, Boko Haram activities, kidnapping and other civil unrest in some parts of the country. These and other factors inhibited the performance of the chemical and leather sector.
“Besides those stated above; some other challenges are the high cost of production, unfavourable market condition leading to massive loss of employment at an unprecedented rate. Within the period the union lost no fewer than 10,000 members due to redundancy and closure of companies. It has been really a herculean task to bring new members to our fold because factories are closing down instead of springing up. Majority of the remaining factories are working at less than installed capacity. It is really a big challenge.”
On the new minimum wage, he said: “We operate in the private sector of the economy and as such, the newly signed national minimum wage will only constitute a reference point for negotiation with our employers. Presently, the union is meeting with the employers’ body for the review of terms and conditions of service. This is a biennial activity. The last agreement expired 1st of April 2019 and we are almost signing another one as the negotiation has reached an advanced stage. There is a mutually beneficial relationship between the Union and the employers’ body and I have no doubt that whenever a new agreement is signed, the effective date of implementation shall be back-dated to April 1st. ”
In a message to members of the union ahead of yesterday’s May Day, he said: “I want to admonish union members to celebrate workers’ day with the intent its purpose. It is a day to reflect on the capital price some people paid for the struggle for eight hours of work per day. Therefore, it should inspire us for more proactive actions towards enhancing workers’ welfare. Defence of workers’ rights is waning seriously; decent jobs are becoming things of the past thereby paving way for subtle enslavement in some practices that are alien to best employment practices. Workers should rise up and defend their rights within the ambit of labour laws and the Nigerian Constitution. I wish our members a happy May Day celebration.”