The Nigerian government has been urged to increase investment in care to generate economic growth.
The investment is also expected to tackle growing demographic challenges and help overcome gender discrimination by mainstreaming women in the economy.
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC Ayuba Wabba, made the call in Abuja in a message to mark the 2019 World Day for Decent Work.
Labour is also demanding that workers be treated with dignity in factories, offices, schools, hospitals, and other work spaces and ensure regularizing appointments, decent work hours, paid leave, guaranteed remuneration at work and regular pension at retirement.
According to the International Labour Organization, (ILO), Decent Work is work that is secured and done by free workers who are entitled to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining to protect their rights at work.
It also means work that is productive and guarantees minimum and living wages for workers, social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration.
Speaking on the theme for the 2019 World Day for decent Work, “Invest in the Care Economy”, the NLC President said, “we re-echo our position that decent work must be at the center of government actions to bring back economic growth and build a new global economy that puts people first.
“Putting people first means reversal of the ugly trend of wage poverty and extreme inequality.
“We therefore join the rest of the global trade union movement to call on government to increase investment in care to generate economic growth, tackle growing demographic challenges and help overcome gender discrimination by mainstreaming women in the economy.
“Investment in care economy means prioritizing investment in extended social protection to women, extended leave for care of children, secured parental leave for both gender and change in work arrangement to allow workers to achieve the critical balance between work and family”, Wabba said.
He said that at the heart of Investment in the Care Economy is empathy for a shared humanity and also a philosophy which central argument is “you cannot leave anyone behind,” saying that today’s 21st century economy has left many people behind.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba lamented the fact that majority of migrants are in precarious jobs that are unstable and insecure, and which offer them limited or no rights, protections and benefits.
Protection to Migrant Workers
He then called on governments and employers to extend decent work provisions and protection to migrant workers through social dialogue.
“You may ask “what do we demand?” Our demands are short, simple and straight forward. We demand that workers be treated with dignity in our factories, offices, schools, hospitals, and other work spaces.
“Workers are not expendable commodities. We create the Wealth! We demand regularized appointments, decent work hours, paid leave, guaranteed remuneration at work and regular pension at retirement.
“In order to create decent work environment, financial resource is key. We, therefore, call for tax reforms in a manner that brings more productive people into the tax net, progressive enough to ensure that the rich pay taxes commensurate to their income and responsive enough to ensure that taxes are applied to reduce social inequality”, he said.
National Minimum Wage
On the stalled negotiation for the implementation of the New National minimum Wage for some categories of workers in Nigeria, the NLC President called on the Federal, State and Local governments to begin the implementation of the new national minimum wage beginning from this month.
Comrade Wabba condemned what he called the prevalent poor salaries and poor working conditions in some sectors of the nation’s economy, said the global best practices of decent wage and decent working conditions for workers must be upheld in Nigeria.
He said that the organised labour was determined to embark on industrial action if the negotiations on consequential salary adjustment is not immediately concluded with implementation begin from this month.
“Finally, Comrades, there cannot be decent work without decent wages. The national minimum wage is the floor for decent wages.
“We call on all tiers of government in Nigeria to commence full implementation of the N30,000 national minimum wage. Also, negotiations for the consequential salary adjustment must be concluded NOW so that all workers would have a reason to smile at the end of this October,” Wabba stated.
Presenting the demands for strict adherence to decent work policy of the ILO to the Minister of FCT, Mallam Mohammed Bello, NLC General Sec, Mr Emmanuel Ugbuaja requested the intervention of the Minister to what he called exploitation of workers at the Federal Medical Center, Jabi, Abuja.
The rally to mark this year’s International Day for Decent Work took off from Labour House in the Central Business Area to the Federal Capital Development Authority Secretariat at Area 11 and returned to the Labour House.