AHEAD of May Day celebration on Sunday, Nigerian workers have sent a clear message to the government and other employers in the country that they can no longer cope with the pains of insecurity, high cost of living, unemployment, poverty, unfair Labour practices and other frustrating situations across the country.
Speaking through Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, NUBIFIE, National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees, NUCFLRANMPE, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, among other unions, insist Nigeria needs urgent fixing to avoid a looming disaster.
We can’t continue like this—NUPENG
Decrying the pathetic situations of Nigerian workers in the last few years, NUPENG argued that workers in Nigeria are being exploited in several ways beyond limit.
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In a message to workers ahead of May Day celebration, President and General Secretary of NUPENG, Prince Williams Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale, among others, “These inhumane and indecent working conditions have over the years continued unabated in one form or the other as evident in new forms of employment including child labour, trafficking, casual, contract and outsourced Labour. “Millions of Nigeria working people have suffered one form of dehumanization and exploitation from the unscrupulous employers, while many have died in the process.”
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers wishes to use the occasion of the 2022 May Day to condemn in a very strong terms the most unfortunate and avoidable deaths and destruction arising from the explosion and inferno at an illegal bunkering refinery in a forest at Abaezi, Ohaji- Egbema Local government area of Imo State with hundreds of lives lost.
“There is no doubt that this unfortunate incident is avoidable if not for the glaring systemic and leadership failure. This kind of calamities have been foretold severally but those saddled with the responsibility to protect the lives of Nigerians and the collective assets have turned so blind and deaf to the deafening calls for actions and direction for the people and the nation.
“On daily basis Nigeria loses millions of barrels of crude to thieves in high places to the extent that the nation is making next to nothing income. While our nation’s refineries remained comatose, illegal refineries keep springing up and spreading everywhere in the country while all layers and levels of authorities remain insensitive and care free about this terrible situation.
“There is no doubt that the high level of unemployment and struggles for survival drove these hundreds of able-bodied young men and women to seek for self help and died in the explosion that happened at the illegal refinery.
The leadership of our Union is deeply pained by this sad and unfortunate incident and commiserates with the families of those that lost their loved ones to the cold hands of this painful incident . May the Almighty God grant each and everyone of them the fortitude to bear the pains.
“We also wish to call on the Federal Government and other layers of government to rise up to its responsibilities in stemming the increasing thefts of the crude and the continued loss of revenue. We are seriously bothered that our security forces with all the tools and equipment seems helpless and incapable of protecting our nation’s assets.
More disturbing is the very apparent lack of political will by the political leadership to give clear directives and concrete steps to take in addressing these unfortunate turn of events. Our nation is bleeding and we are strongly demanding from the political leaders to rise up and lead appropriately.
“In the same vein, we earnestly want to implore and strongly warn our members to avoid working for these unscrupulous illegal refinery owners. NUPENG is a Union for workers in legitimate Oil and Gas businesses and any member caught working for or aiding any form of illegal Oil and Gas business shall not only be expelled from the Union but will also be handed over to face the full wrath of the law. Our Union is willing and ready to collaborate with government in any way to put an end to this menace.
“Even in this very sad moment, we still acknowledge the fact that May Day is a day for working class people globally to have sober reflection and engage in discussion on issues affecting the employment and conditions of work.
“The challenges of Union recognition, job security,decent work, health and safety are still very rampant in the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry and remain constant on our focus and the Union will not rest on its oars until these issues are adequately addressed and resolved for the good of the highly committed, hardworking masses of our nation.
“We are worried about situations where core and regular operational activities of oil and gas companies are being carried out by casual workers . This ugly situation is so destructive of the self belief/esteem and believe in the nation.
“The increasing rate insecurity and destruction of national assets can be directly linked to this practice .The morale of workers is generally dampened because high productivity cannot be expected when those handling critical operations are treated like slaves and ill-motivated.”
Nigeria needs urgent fixing—PENGASSAN
On its part, PENGASSAN called for urgent and immediate fixing of Nigeria to avoid a looming disaster.
In a chat, PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo among others, said “In recent times, Nigerian workers have been plagued with harsh social and economic maladies, ranging from hike in prices of some petroleum products to epileptic power supply occasioned by low generation, transmission, and distribution with the resultant effect on the high cost of manufactured goods and services.
“Similarly, there are also challenges occasioned by energy transition, difficult business environment, youth unemployment, disruption in the educational sector, especially at the tertiary levels due to incessant strikes by ASUU over unfulfilled signed agreements with the Government, and intense hunger arising from the dislocation of farmers by insurgents.
The most frightening of them all is the worsening insecurity where we have seen attacks on our roads, airports, train stations, etc. Kidnappings and death indices are soaring on a daily as it’s gradually becoming a norm.
All these tragic indices are indications that our Nation is gradually descending into a failed state and if nothing drastic is done, the naysayers and prophets of doom may be proven right.”
NUBIFIE decries anti-workers’ policies
Speaking, President of NUBIFIE, Anthony Obakpa, lamented the plight of workers in the Financial sector, saying they are confronted with all form of abuses and unfriendly policies.
According to him, one of such policies “Is the ongoing amendment of the Bank Employees Act Declaration of Assets. We are concerned with some aspects of the amendment bill which has tended to infringe on individual rights and liberty. Individuals who are not employees of banks, such as children, spouses etc should not be subjected to any part of the act simply because of an affinity to an employee of a bank, especially on assets disclosures of such individuals who are not direct employees of banks.
“Another contradiction in the act was the definition of outsourced workers in the bank as employees of banks. This is an issue that has given great concern to Labour as a whole, but in particular, the banking and insurance industry, which has agitated the minds of concerned outsourced workers in the banking industry as to what exactly is their employment status.
“If, for the purpose of this act, outsourced workers are defined as bank employees, then that act should equally make them just that, employees of banks, as full staff status, recognising as it were, their current employment status being employees of outsourcing companies.”
NUCFRLANMPE laments high insecurity, unemployment others
In the same vein, President of NUCFRLANMPE, Babatunde Olatunji, said “ the situation of the country should be of serious concern to all well meaning citizens and groups.
He said “We are faced with high unemployment rate, ascending inflationary rate, imbalances in our bilateral trade relations, weak currency, FOREX difficulties, insecurity in the names of Boko Haram, banditry, Herdsmen invasion, kidnappers, ritual killings etc, dearth of infrastructures, poor power supply and several other challenges leading to near total systemic breakdown.
All of these are taking their tolls on decent jobs, social protection and people’s welfare.
In our Industry, we have been working together with our employers federation towards sustaining healthy industrial relationship and that has really helped to minimize job loss arising from poor economy and COVID-19 pandemic. “
ASCSN assures members on welfare
Meanwhile, ahead of May Day, ASCSN, in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Tommy Okon and Alade Basir Lawal, the association said “as we join millions of workers throughout the world to celebrate the 2022 May Day, we wish to use this opportunity to commend the teeming members of our great Union for remaining steadfast and united which enable the Association to always overcome organisational challenges whenever they arise.
“We wish to assure you all that the current National Leadership of the Association is committed to the pursuit of welfare issues including the restoration of payment of gratuity to public service employees.
On behalf of the Central Working Committee and the National Executive Council, we wish you all a very pleasant May Day celebrations.”