Organised labour urged to refocus on workers welfare

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

Organised Labour in Nigeria, has been advised to refocus its attention to matters that affect the welfare of workers in the country.

Former President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Mr Babatunde Ogun made the call in an interview with Voice of Nigeria in Abuja.

Ogun said this was imperative as it was becoming difficult for workers to ensure prompt payment of wages.

He noted that labour leaders in the country have deviated from the core mandate of the organised Labour and were concentrating on some national issues that have no direct bearing on workers.

“We have seen some kind of deviations. I think the organised labour is now being carried away by their involvement in nation building and the politics.

“Organised labour should be more concerned about the unity and welfare of workers in the country.

“We need to use our position as organised labour and be more concerned about the unity and welfare of labour.

“We need to go back to the grassroots; we need to see how we can get back our mobilisation of the workers very well.

“The importance of labour is to ensure gainful employment, descent work, and also ensure adequate representation of workers,” he said.

He frowned at discussions on national issues that did not directly affect the needs of workers, saying it could have an adverse effect.

According to him, labour leaders now fight more for the masses who are outside labour than for those who are paid as workers.

He stressed the need for labour leaders to do internal re-organisation among themselves.

“There must be duty of purpose and they must be concerned about their unity to be able to fight for the workers.

“We have so many issues in Nigeria. As we speak, for almost three to four years, the minimum wage has become an issue that we cannot ensure its implementation.

“Minimum wage should not be stagnant. We must be able to get to a particular level as it is done all over the world. There must be a living wage which must be reviewed every year.

“There must be a yardstick for some of these things to be embedded in the law.

“Basic things for workers must be enshrined in our constitution or labour laws so that individuals who are working for private organisations  are not oppressed unnecessarily,” he added.

While speaking on the condition of workers in the country, Ogun commended those who are still in the struggle to free workers from what he called “oppression”.

Mr Ogun noted that the general trend of labour and employee relations in the country is at variance with what exist in other part of the world.

Ogun said: “Currently, we have serious challenges because technology is almost taking over man to man physical engagement in labour due to the global economy trend which we are part of  is becoming difficult for workers to aspire to have living wages paid.

“We need to work harder while government and other agencies need to be more concerned about the need of workers,” Ogun said.

He said that productivity has also dropped and workers are no longer having job satisfaction.

Nnenna.O