ILO Convention: Workers seek convention to end workplace violence, harassment

Helen Shok Jok, Geneva

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba

Workers around the globe are demanding that the centenary Conference of the International Labour Organisation ILO, come out with a declaration to end violence and harassment at the workplace.

This was the crux of the address by Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress NLC when he addressed the plenary Session at the 108th Centenary celebration of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We hope that at the end of this conference, a convention that will actually address the violence and harassment at work will be gotten.

“This is as well as making strong and a historic declaration that will actually make this very important centenary to continue to build on social justice and share prosperity, he said.

Wabba, who is also the President of the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC, also stressed the importance of taking advantage of the Conference to interrogate the idea that social protection cannot be achieved alongside advancement in technology.

“We must demobilize the myth that there can never be enough for everyone irrespective of class, gender and social status.

“There is indeed enough to meet our needs but hardly enough to satisfy our greed.

“We must, therefore, make the necessary sacrifices to keep the wheels of economic prosperity moving, the engine of social progress roaring and the wings of inclusive innovation soaring,” he said.

Social Justice
Wabba however, acknowledged that there has been modest progress in the struggle for social justice in Nigeria; citing the new national minimum wage that as been passed by Nigeria’s Parliament.

He also noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has also assented to the new National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act.

“We are now at the level of ensuring comprehensive implementation by all tiers of government and employers in the private sector,” he said.

Wabba said in order to consolidate workers’ power and build resilient trade unions, the ITUC has prioritised the promotion of peace, democracy and rights.

“We demand regulation of economic power and the redistribution of wealth.

“For us, it is “workers first, then profits.” We refuse to accept current historic levels of inequality.

“We reject the reality that more than 70 per cent of the world’s people have little or no social protection.

“We demand a re-jig of tax systems in a manner that restores the re-distributive role of government.

“We reject a situation where more than 50 per cent of the global wealth is owned by less than one per cent of the world’s population. We insist on social contracts that deliver social justice.

“Ultimately, our objective of social justice is a shared one. Government and employers will gain more in a milieu of social justice and progress.

“Thus, we expect that the discussions and negotiations that has gone on in this ILC will expand the space for equitable wealth redistribution, and yield improved social contracts, sustainable work conditions, living wages, shorter work hours, among others,” he said.

Workers across the globe earlier, marched round the city of Geneva in a peaceful protest demanding for a new social contract from world leaders.