Group trains Labour union, CSOs on enforcement of workers’ rights

By Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

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An international non-profit organsiation, ‘The Solidarity Center’, recently held a two-day training aimed at building the capacity of labour leaders and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), on effective enforcement of workers’ right.

The training also focused on freedom of association and collective bargaining through labour and CSOs collaborations.

Addressing the participants drawn from the organised labour, CSOs and the media, the Country Director of the Solidarity Center, Mr. Sonny Ogbuehi, said that one of the major objectives of the training was to talk about labour laws and how it can get the government to hold itself, unions and employers accountable in dealing with issues that affect workers in the country.

“In 2021, we held our first organising academy, it was for the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), where we recruited leaders, identified issues and skills that workers need to grow their unions and power.

“After that organising academy, we did support organising campaigns in five sectors and even though the period of organising was short, we were able to organise thousands of workers.”

Speaking on what he called the violation of workers’ rights, Mr. Ogbuehi called for the revisiting of the nation’s labour laws for strengthening where necessary as well as ensure enforcement where penalties are found to have taken place.

“We also have one challenge which is our labour laws. There is no point having laws if they are not going to be the force they supposed to be.

“So, we need to figure out in Nigeria how we can hold employers accountable.

“There are lots of violators of labour laws in Nigeria…We need to find ways to entrench accountability in our labour space”, he said.

There has been increasing cases of exploitation of workers by employers as well as the infringement on the rights of workers to unionize, and so a renewed call to strengthen collaboration between Trade Unions and Civil Society Organisations to advocate actions that promote decent work environment.

Trade Unions in Nigeria have alleged that many of the employers and business owners intimidate and threaten workers with outright sack, should they insist on their rights to belong to an association.

Participants at the workshop identified the need to start building capacity of trade union leaders as well as strategic collaboration with Civil Society partners in the quest to improve working conditions for workers.

Trade Unions, they agreed cannot continue to work in silos. Beyond the traditional trade Unions tactics and strategies, there is need to bring in pro-workers CSOs, lawyers and the media to drive the advocacy.

The workshop also witnessed the development of strategies that will promote compliance and enforcement of existing labour laws that discourages outsourcing and casualization, which they said were major challenges in most businesses.

Advocacy campaigns are also being developed to encourage the strengthening of the labour Inspectorate Department in the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Rising from the meeting, the participants agreed that five advocacy teams comprising five people each will conduct five legislative or governmental advocacy visits.

“During the visits, the teams will put forward the “Charter of Demands” and what they request from the personalities they meet.

“The Solidarity Center will print copies of the Charter of demands and flyers to raise awareness among the broader workforce and the communities at large.

“Following the legislative meetings, the Solidarity Center will also provide financial assistance to support a media campaign to publicize the Charter of Demands”.

Participants at the workshop were drawn from the Media, the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (iLAW), Civil Society organization and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria.

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