The challenges facing the Nigerian worker include poor remuneration, high cost of living, casualisation, insecurity, nepotism, over-bloated wages of political office holders, and poor or non-existent retirement and leave benefits.
This was stated by Very Rev Fr. Ethelbert Arua, OSJ, Provincial of the Nigerian Province of the Oblates of St Joseph, in his homily, in celebration of the Young Christian Workers Movement of Nigeria, 2021 edition of International Workers Day, at St Agnes Catholic Church Maryland, Lagos.
He said meritocracy should override nepotism, allowances of political office holders should be reviewed, workers leave and retirement benefits should not be denied, the growing rate of youth unemployment, wide skill gap, and poor education system should be urgently addressed by the relevant bodies.
He also enjoined workers to emulate the virtues of humility, loyalty, and selfless service.
In his remark, the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins (DD) stated that this year’s Worker’s Day was special, because of the Year of St Joseph; declared by the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
He emphasised the importance of workers uniting to advance socially and economically in Nigeria. He highlighted a decline in workers welfare, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
READ ALSO: 11 years after: Tributes to late Yar’Adua
He used the occasion to unveil and bless the Grotto/Statue of St Joseph – the Patron Saint of Workers; while admonishing the YCW to always live up to its slogan “The difference is you”.
He rounded off by urging the government to address the spate of insecurity in the country.
The YCW Archdiocesan Chaplain, Very REV. MSGR Livinus Ukah, in his written remark, states that Jesus appreciated the work of St Joseph to show mankind the dignity of labour and to work is to transform our lives, economy, and society.
The Acting National President, Paul-Mary Williams Onofere expressed serious concerns over youth restiveness, lack of basic amenities, declining education system, poor industrialisation, and insecurity.
In her address, the President of the YCW, Lagos Archdiocese, Ijeoma Ayaborsi highlighted that the worker’s day theme “Uniting workers for social and economic advancement” was timely, in a country that is conflicted between having a maximum output; yet trying to balance the rights of workers.
“The theme is a clarion call to refocus attention on the work ahead and remind ourselves that advancement can only come when we all strive to work together- in love,” she added.
She stated that workers are the backbone of every society, hence the need for support.
Members embarked on a short action campaign peace trek from the Mass venue to the reception, with placards; advocating for workers’ rights and better welfare package.
May Day is an annual event of the movement to celebrate workers of all spheres of life, in recognition of their contributions to society and to reinforce the dignity of labour.
The highpoint of the event was a reception that featured match past from deaneries, an x-ray of the theme, entertainment, and other activities. It was well attended by members and guests.
The Young Christian Workers Movement was founded in 1925, in Belgium, by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn with a mission to awaken the moral consciousness of workers, in order to transform them into efficient agents of change in their work environment and society. Its motto is SEE, JUDGE, ACT.