NLC urges Government to fight mass unemployment

NLCEluonye Koyegwuaehi

10 January 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – LEADING central labour organization in Nigeria, Nigeria Labour Congess, NLC, has called on government at all levels to prioritize job creation this year to combat the alarming upsurge of unemployment in the country and its negative consequences.

NLC lamented that increasing challenges face by workers over a labour market characterised by high levels of unemployment and the associated problems of job insecurity.

In a statement by President of NLC and its General Secretary, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar and Chris Uyot respectively, the central labour organization said “for those looking for jobs and those entering the labour market for the first time, particularly the youths, the daunting odds of finding a job continued to be a source of fear and panic throughout 2013. We implore the millions of Nigerians who are still searching for work to keep faith and hope alive. We call on governments at all levels to put job creation at the centre of all their activities.”

“Government needs to deploy policies to promote the creation of jobs. Government spending on projects and programmes must be evaluated in part on the basis of how many jobs such projects and programmes will create. Sectors of the economy with high job elasticity of growth need to be identified with a view to initiating policies to promote growth in such sectors. In this way the malady of jobless growth, which has come to characterise the economy, can be moderated.”

“In the course of the year 2013, there were several industrial relations challenges. Among these was the long-drawn contestation of electricity workers over the privatisation of the power sector. The handling of labour issues in the privatisation process could have been more diligently handled. Even till date, many workers are yet to receive their full entitlements.”

“The ongoing constitutional review by the National Assembly with an attempt by the Senate to distort the National Minimum Wage Act against workers interest was another sour note in labour relations in 2013. While Congress appreciates the intervention of the House of Representatives which had given a commitment to ensuring the attempt to remove labour issues, especially the Minimum Wage, from the Exclusive list will not be passed, we hope that the Senate will also fulfil its promise to do same as this will be the only way to guarantee sustainable industrial peace and harmony in the country in the new year.”

According to NLC “ also, anti-worker and anti-union practices in the banking, telecommunications and oil sectors, among others, during the year clearly demonstrate that workers’ and union rights guaranteed by the constitution of our nation cannot be taken for granted, but would have to be continuously fought for in the coming years. We salute workers and union leaders as well as activists who have kept up the struggle in defence of those rights.”

“There were several strikes and work stoppages during the year particularly in the public sector. For over five months the nation’s public university system was completely shut down due to the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

While we are glad to be associated with the process which led to the final resolution of the strike, we believe that a more proactive disposition of government to industrial disputes is needed to ensure that the nation is not subjected to such lengthy strikes.”

It added that “the festering industrial relations issues in the country need to be engaged in a more purposeful and timely manner so as to spare the nation the trauma of long and frequent strikes. Government needs to invest in developing and sustaining robust industrial relations machinery capable of apprehending and resolving industrial disputes in a timely manner. Above all, Government must develop the courage to honour all agreements with labour.”

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