By Victor Ahiuma- Young
FEW days ago, the new leaders of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, had an interactive session with a section of journalists in Lagos, where journalists sought the views of the new leadership on some issues, including perceived reactionary stance of the congress in the last couple of years and how it intended to play a major role in the emerging socio-economic and political environment in Nigeria.
Leading members of the new National Administrative Council, NAC, TUC’s President, Quadri Olaleye, promised that henceforth, TUC would not only be proactive, but would soon unfold unusual strategy to reposition the labour centre.
Future of TUC
He said: “We envision a better, stronger and more virile TUC. We are committed to taking TUC to greater heights by protecting the interest of our members and Nigerian masses. We look forward to increasing our membership base and improve our investments and revenue base too.
It is our firm belief that our great union, the TUC, deserves a befitting headquarters. To this end, our leadership shall work vigorously to ensure that we bequeath a modern and befitting new headquarters to the next generation. As a union, we will continue to collaborate with the Nigerian Labour Congress, international, regional and other national labour movements to advance the cause of workers around the globe and Nigeria in particular.
“It is obvious that there are lots of issues but we shall take them to appropriate authorities. One thing, however, is clear; the new leadership of TUC craves the indulgences of all stakeholders including the media, in the Nigeria project, to join hands to make this country a better place for us all.”
Among others, he informed that there were several challenges confronting the Nigerian workers, noting that on the issue of Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA: “We are going to collectively ensure that the collective agreements of affiliates are strictly adhered to. Most employers breach agreements at will and we cannot continue like this.
The National Wages Board and Industrial Council Act 1973 Section 18 and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions lay credence to the right of workers as far as collective bargaining is concerned. We hereby implore the multinational corporations and employers of labour in the private sector, most especially, to ensure workers’ right to belong to the union is respected and collective bargaining principles enshrined in their system.”
Casualisation / Outsourcing
According to him: “A very dangerous trend in our industries today, especially, the private sector, is casualisation of workers while the public sector is guilty of outsourcing. The vulnerability of the casual worker whose existence is neither contemplated nor regulated by law, is high. Casual workers are not given the same benefits (such as compensation for injuries arising in the course of employment, right to belong to trade unions and bargain collectively and various social security benefits) that accrue to permanent employees. In addition, they are paid less and often subjected to unfair labour practices.
“A process where a business or government contracts a portion of its business or functions to a third party is not ideal for our fragile economy. The third party is typically a specialist in a particular field and based locally or in the same country. We have noted that outsourcing by various MDAs is simply a medium to siphon funds. Often, we noticed that fake expatriates are brought in with little or no capacity, yet, awarded contracts worth huge sums, even when workers can comprehensively perform a similar task and even better.
“We have also identified that many companies, including the public sector, have deliberately decided not to fund capacity-building programs of their workforce with a view to engaging in outsourcing. We demand to make equitable laws and policies, ensuring their vigilant enforcement, regulating labour outsourcing companies and ensuring access to justice for aggrieved workers, it is possible to palliate its cruel impact on the workforce.
Beyond this, the government must ensure that employers engage in training and retraining of their staff for effective production.”