By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
The IndustriALL Global Union has called on Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state to “reconsider and withdraw” the mass sack of thousands of civil servants of Kaduna state and engage with workers’ unions on the state development.
IndustriALL Global Union with headquarters in Geneva represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy, and manufacturing sectors, offers global solidarity for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.
Addressing the media on the sideline of Iftar Ramadan breakfast hosted by him in Kaduna on Sunday, the Vice President of the global union, Comrade Issa Aremu said “at times of Covid:19 pandemic, rising official unemployment of 33, 18 per cent inflation and open unemployment of 50 per cent and footloose criminality and banditry, the minimum responsibility of all elected governments is “jobs retention, mass job creation not engaging in unhelpful massive layoffs”.
The Kaduna State Government had reportedly laid off and turned some thousands of workers into casual workers across the local councils citing “the dwindling finances and high wage bill of the state”. The state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had kicked against the ‘mass sack’ of workers, while the National Executive Council ( NEC) of NLC announced mass action against the controversial decision rising from its meeting at the weekend in Abuja.
Comrade Aremu said the proposed actions of organized labour against the mass sack by the government of Kaduna state “is timely and legitimate”. He called on both Ministers of labour, Chris Ngige and Minister of state Festus Kyamo “to bring their wealth of experience to avert another round of labour lockdown in Kaduna state” through social dialogue between state government and labour . He urged state governors to emulate the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari who he said has retained jobs, sets to create some 1000 jobs in each local government while ensuring prompt payment of salaries including the new minimum wages notwithstanding volatile oil revenue. Aremu who is also a member of the National Institute Kuru Jos observed that the development in some states shows that “critical issues of development such as labour and policing cannot be left to the states but made “exclusively federal to foster justice and peace”.
Comrade Aremu who was also two-term former Vice President of NLC described as “least, lazy governance” act of shifting the burden of dwindling revenue on workers through layoffs”. He said it was time governors diversified the states’ economies through “government-private sector partnerships for massive industrialization and varying labour absorption strategies”.
He observed that Governor El Rufai like most governors of Northern states, “was better positioned to be less dependent on Federal allocations if they could partner with the federal government to urgently implement the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy which according to CBN could generate over 2 million direct taxable jobs”.
“At like this with a pandemic, high inflation, unemployment, income, and energy poverty, government protection is next to Godliness. The constitution envisages a kind caring Nigeria, not “tough” insensitive sub-national leaders who sack workers on low pay, impose levies indiscriminately, worsen poverty, and inadvertently fuels violent crimes of various hues” he said.
The labour leader said there is a nexus between job losses, wage poverty, and criminality.
“Men may suffer terribly from the death of loved ones, the breakup of a marriage, or some other personal tragedy. But what brings human beings the point of immobilization, total misery is the loss of their jobs”. “The truths about mass layoffs is that they’re killers, just visit the communities hosting the collapsed textile mills around the country and see the misery of unemployment” he noted.
Comrade Aremu hailed the governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele who he said has “ commendably turned COVID:19 tragedy into opportunities for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, bailing out the state governors and creating and retaining jobs such that Nigeria is technically out of recession.
“In line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN has created several lending programmes and provided hundreds of billions to smallholder farmers and industrial processors in several key agricultural produce …are aimed at positioning Nigeria to become a self-sufficient food producer, creating millions of jobs, supplying key markets across the country and dampening the effects of exchange rate movements on local prices.”
He advised that state governors must key into Economic Sustainability Programme by the Federal Government and other CBN facilities targeted at households, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), youth empowerment, and reduction of unemployment.
“It is unacceptable that Nigerians are out of work when indeed there is much to do in all sectors of the economy, from civil service to security, from agriculture to industry,” he said.
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