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We Shall Make a Difference- Nigerian Labour group

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As we all march into the beginning of 2017. As we all ponder the direction of the nation; its economy; the colour of its politics and their probable impact on the lives and aspirations of the downtrodden masses especially Nigerian workers who have been subjected to all manners of deprivations by mindless and lawless employers; energised by impunities meted out to workers by state Governments who have owed workers’ salaries for upwards of 7 months with various unilateral actions against workers and illegal deductions from workers’ salaries; the United Labour Congress of Nigeria wishes to felicitate with all Nigerian workers and masses and congratulate them on their continuous perseverance and resilience in the face of these daunting challenges.

The ULC assures Nigerians and workers that our commitment this year is towards ensuring that we work creatively with Governments at all levels towards effective governance thus building a Nigeria that would rekindle the hope of the citizens and guarantee the benefits of nationhood to all Nigerians. To this end, we are determined to engage the Government at various levels to generate appropriate policies and programmes that would cushion the present suffering and hardship that have become our collective lot in the past few years.

We shall intensify our effort through the various platforms we are currently involved in especially the 16-Man Federal Government Technical Committee to revisit the high cost of Petroleum products in Nigeria and to ensure that the general malaise bedevilling the energy sector are constructively engaged. The Assembly (ULC) therefore calls on the federal Government to make this committee more effective and empower it to conclude its work quickly.

The Assembly(ULC) is focused on working with the federal Government through the federal Ministry of Labour to put in place various regulations and working with the NASS to make appropriate laws that would address the diverse lawlessness of both foreign and local employers in our workplaces. Unilateral sacks and illegal retrenchments will be tackled head – on while the use of casual and contract work will be seriously tackled to create a Nigerian workplace that is compliant with the Decent work Agenda.
Once again, we therefore give notice to the Banks and the Finance industry generally including the Telecommunication companies and other employers that have taken delight in abusing and violating the rights and privileges of workers in Nigeria through their flagrant disregard of our Labour and trade union laws. We shall pursue in conjunction with the relevant agencies of Government the compliance of our workplaces with the laws of Nigeria and the relevant international standards.

The ULC shall work assiduously with the federal Government for an upward review of the national minimum wage to N96,000 per month which has been long overdue. We shall seek greater coverage of the minimum wage to include all Nigerian workers whether working in the formal or informal sectors. In this light, we shall work towards designing a wage floor that would be automatically self-adjusting just like it is done in other advanced nations of the world bearing in mind that in the US, just yesterday, the minimum wage automatically went upwards from U$8:00 per hour to U$11:00 per hour. This is a national increase of about 37.5% in a nation with declining inflation and low cost of living.
We shall get involved in assisting Governments implement their respective budgets through effective budget monitoring framework and shall constitute a nation-wide committee using our respective state councils in conjunction with other civil society organisations to monitor budget implementation both at the federal and state levels. This, the Assembly believes will help government plug all leakages in their budget implementation processes.

As we congratulate the federal Government and the Military in their various victories against the Boko Haram insurgents especially its recent victory in the Sambisa forest battle, we also urge it to deploy the same zeal in protecting the lives and properties of citizens across Nigeria who are mindlessly being mowed down by death merchants in Kaduna and in other hotspots in the Country. We also wish that this same zeal is deployed to clinically deal with the battle against corruption. It is time that Governments at all levels craft responsive and effective strategies to combat the current hardship in the Country. Nigerians truly are yearning for a reprieve from the grip of mass hunger and deprivation.
ULC finally assures all Nigerian workers to have an increased hope in the labour movement as we are poised and are truly committed to offering a better and more robust representation of all Nigerian workers and our various affiliates. We will not waver in this direction and therefore calls upon our various social partners especially the employers to be more committed to ensuring greater obedience to our laws especially those dealing with employment relations in Nigeria. We also assure the masses that we shall be forever focused on protecting their interests thus are determined to continuously engage the Government to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of national resources.
We therefore call on all Nigerian workers and masses including the civil society to support our effort in this direction as the struggle against the forces of oppression and under-development is arduous and can only be won by a determined and focused citizenry from all walks of life. We must not allow ourselves to be blackmailed or intimidated into silence by these forces that are bent on holding down our collective destinies as workers, peoples and as a nation. This battle can only be won by our collective action and as we work towards this, we urge all Nigerians to stretch forth their hands of goodwill and fellowship refusing to be distracted by the fight back from retrogressive elements in the society. Collectively, we shall succeed in our avowals to Nigerian workers and peoples.
Happy new year to all Nigerians! Since there is hope for a tree that is cut, we assure all that there is hope for all of us but it will take our collective hands on the plough!

Comrade Joe Ajaero

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