Labour unrest attributed to wrong approach to reforms

23 September 2014, Lagos – The organised labour in the textile industry has attributed the causes of labour unrest in the country to federal government’s insincerity and wrong approach to reforms.

Speaking under the umbrella of National Union of Textile and Garment Workers (NUTGW), the union noted that there is distrust and crisis of confidence in government reform, insisting that the various reform programmes lacked transparency.

NLCGeneral Secretary of the union, Issa Aremu, in a speech delivered in Kaduna recently cited the proposed privatisation of the nation’s four refineries announced by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), which was later reversed by the presidency after the unions in the oil and gas sector threatened to go on strike.

The union scribe who maintained that reforms must have integrity and sincerity of purpose, stated that the proposed privatisation of the refineries points to the wrong approach of reforms.

Aremu, who is also a Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), wondered why government was in a hurry to sell the refineries when the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which has been pending for over 10 years, is yet to be signed into law.

“We support the legitimate concerns of both PENGASSAN and NUPENG. Let the Ministry of Petroleum resources do one thing at a time. It must ensure the passage of the PIB which has been gathering dust for more than 10 years. The proposed privatisation of the refineries points to our official wrong approach to reform. If we cannot pass PIB in ten years, why selling off refineries in 18 months?” Aremu said.

Proffering solution to incessant strikes being witnessed in the country, Aremu called on the tripartite National Advisory Labour Council (NALC) to immediately convey a special session on collective bargaining and conflict resolution with governments, employers and labour as participants to address all critical labour issues.
This, he added, should be with particular reference to respect for sanctity of collective agreements by governments, mediation and conciliation in cases of disputes.

On the epileptic power situation across the country, Aremu said: “President Goodluck Jonathan had hinted that his plans for Nigeria in 2014 include minimum of 18 hours electricity supply daily. This is refreshing but not reassuring”.

According to him, for a country that has for over 30 years witnessed unacceptable power outages leading to massive closure of factories, job losses and poverty, 18 hours minimum electricity supply is token, unambitious, patronising, unhelpful and development-blind.

Frequent power outages, he said cause interruptions in the manufacturing process which in turn undermine standard of production thus making the industry uncompetitive.

He warned that if the current epileptic power supply electricity persists, the nation’s economy might be shut down.

“What Nigeria and Nigerians want and are prepared to pay for is not another promissory notes or  day-dreaming promises but immediate uninterrupted electricity service delivery to propel Industrialization, productivity, create mass decent jobs and eradicate poverty.

“The truth is that today power supply despite the much taunted privatisation, has gone from bad to worse. President Jonathan must know that privatisation of power sector is just the means not the end. The end Nigerians are looking forward to is uninterrupted power supply,” he said.



– This Day

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