NLC – Federal House of Reps: Ensuring Better Workers’ Welfare

By The World Satellite.

 

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC); an umbrella organization for trade unions in Nigeria was founded in 1978 following a merger of four different organisations, namely, Nigeria Trade Union Congress (NTUC), Labour Unity Front (LUF), United Labour Congress (ULC) and Nigeria Workers Council (NWC).

As part of efforts to continue to engage with several stakeholders in Nigeria, NLC paid a courtesy visit to the office of the speaker, Federal House of Representatives; Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila

At the meeting with the speaker, NLC President;  Comrade Ayuba Waba, who led the National  leadership of the Organization revealed that it has been part of their tradition to meet with leaders of the National Assembly from time to time, noting that it’s heartwarming that under the leadership of Femi Gbajabiamila, the House has passed some pro-people legislation. Perhaps more significant is the Anti-Casaulisation Bill and the Issue of the Minimum Wage.

Comrade Waba further assured the Speaker that Labour and the House will continue to be partners in progress as it has always been from time immemorial. “We will continue to commend the synergy between the National Assembly and the Executive on the current fight against COVID-19. It is also worthy of commendation that the House had to suspend its break to attend to the national emergency of COVID-19,” he said.

While commending the House for intervening in the planned strike actions by some bodies of the union, Waba raised issues such as casualisation of workers, amendment of the labour law, rights of workers to belong to different unions, climate change, diversification of the economy, challenges in the oil and gas sector, credible data for the country, spending the COVID-19 fund, the politics in AfDB.

NLC – Federal House of Reps: Ensuring Better Workers’ Welfare
    Speaker, Federal House of Representatives and NLC President; Comrade Ayuba Waba

    Reacting, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila assured that the House of Representatives will continue to engage the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to better the lives of the Nigerian workers so that they could always put in their best, while expressing deep concern over the issue of strikes that come up from time to time, which he said would not augur well for the country’s economy.

    The Speaker, who commended Nigerian workers for their sacrifices over the years, noted that the 9th House would not hesitate to promote good ideals that would strengthen their working environment. In addition, he encouraged Nigerian workers to support the government and do what is right at all times.

    He said since the inauguration of the 9th House on June 11 last year, the leadership of the House has intervened in several looming strikes in the health, education and power sector, but he urged the workers to always exercise some high level of patience.

    Continuing, the Speaker pledged that the House will continue to strive towards a convenient environment for workers to avoid strikes. “Ours is a people’s House, and we’ll continue to work for the people. We’ll also encourage workers to do what’s right. For example, the issue of IPPIS shouldn’t have come up. When such issues come up, we won’t hesitate to be objective enough.

    “In the 9th House, we adopted the mantra of Nation-Building: A Joint Task. This isn’t about any party, men or women, Islam or Christianity. But it’s about Nigeria and Nigerians. So, we’ll work with you. When it comes to national issues, we should all keep our affiliations aside,” Gbajabiamila said.

    NLC – Federal House of Reps: Ensuring Better Workers’ Welfare
      Participants from both sides

      Addressing the issue of casualization of workers raised by the NLC President, Gbajabiamila noted the House considers it a very serious matter, and that the House would also ensure the amendment of the labour law to accommodate certain concerns.

      “The issue of workers’ right to belong to unions can’t be contested. The constitution guarantees such. On the social dialogue, we’re open to it. Try and bring the amendment. When you bring it, we’ll look at it thoroughly,” the Speaker added.

      On the issue of climate change, Gbajabiamila said: “We believe in it. I’m glad you believe in it. Whatever we need to do, we must do it to avert something that affects everybody all over the world. It’s an essential threat.

      “You discussed the economy, that’s probably the most important thing in the front burner. We’re already looking at post COVID- 19. This government should be and must be given credit that they’re walking the talk in terms of diversifying the economy, particularly in agriculture.”

      On the concern raised in the area of power, the Speaker said the country must vigorously pursue solutions, noting that the House has for a while concluded work on a bill to criminalise estimated billing and has been forwarded to the Senate for concurrence.

      NLC – Federal House of Reps: Ensuring Better Workers’ Welfare
        Group Photograph of the Speaker; Femi Gbajabiamila, NLC President; Ayuba Waba, with other NLC National Leaders and Staff from the Office of the Speaker

        Gbajabiamila also said that the solutions to the challenges faced in the oil and gas industry are the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) and the fixing of Nigeria’s refineries.

        Responding to the issue of fuel subsidy, the Speaker said the Appropriation Act should be the reference point, adding that “If there’s no such provision, and something is spent, it’s the responsibility of the National Assembly to look into that. I believe the committees of the National Assembly are doing a good job.”

        To address the concern expressed by Waba on ensuring transparency in spending COVID-19 funds, Gbajabiamila said the House had already constituted a panel headed by Rep. Haruna Mshelia. He also remarked that Nigeria needs to have a credible database to be able to take certain decisions and make good plans.

        In conclusion, he expressed the support of the House for the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, in the face of ongoing adversaries against him, saying a resolution was passed on Tuesday in that regard.

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