The Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, is holding a five day National leadership retreat to reflect on the core values of the labour movement in Nigeria, current realities and project on what the future of work holds for workers.
The retreat holding in Enugu, South-east Nigeria, is also to create an opportunity of interaction between the newly elected officers of the Congress during the February 2019 National Delegates’ Conference and other State congress officials since the last retreat in 2016.
Apart from the retreat having all the members of the National Executive Council and the National Administrative Council physically present, the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi personally declared the retreat open.
Bringing the leadership of the NLC together to rub minds on issues affecting them and their members is not new, what is new however, is that this will be the first time that it is all encompassing, having the leadership both at the national and State levels, representing all the tiers of the NLC in one room at the time.
The participants in the number of days set aside for the main business of the gathering, would be discussing, examining and proposing solutions to domestic issues, global trends and relate to the industrial dynamics shaping the world of work vis-a-vis the implications for organising, advocacy and improvement of working conditions.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba in an address of welcome, heighted the emergence of new technological development which he says has the potentials of taking over the jobs done by humans.
He therefore called for human capacity development to meet with the changing times.
“The over-arching goal of this year’s retreat is to get the leadership of Congress at all levels to examine, discuss, brainstorm and proffer pragmatic ideas to the challenges of today and fears for tomorrow confronting Nigerian workers.
“As leaders, we owe a duty to our followers to go beyond providing solutions to the problems of today but also to prepare answers to the questions of tomorrow.
“This is why we are here in this secluded suburb of Enugu and have engaged experts to prepare and discuss relevant papers to help us identify the way forward. I challenge all of us to make this opportunity count.
“Currently, Nigerian workers and their trade unions face daunting challenges which have been exacerbated by the rapidly evolving dynamism in the world of work.
“While we are confronted by the reality of expanding globalization as manifest in the burgeoning information revolution, demographic shifts, climate change and technological innovation, we are still beset by the debris of the industrial era”, Wabba said.
He said that while Nigerian workers seek answers to the questions that the future of work brings, they should also be anxious to dispose all or most of the concerns that exist in the contemporary world of work.
“In this era, our workers still face the indignity of indecent work. In this age and time, Nigerian workers are forced to beg for their salaries which are now owed in arrears.
“While other countries have fully accommodated and automated the process of minimum wage adjustments and are now focused on living wages, we are faced with a situation where we are forced to bargain too hard and wait for too long for meager increases in minimum wage and adjustments in salary”, the NLC President lamented.
Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who declared the retreat open, commended the NLC for its position as the mouth piece of Nigerians promising that his administration will always toe the line of peace with labour in the State.
“The NLC no doubt is a the uncompromising voice of the people. In Enugu State, the interest of workers will continue to be on the priority list of my government”, the Governor said.
With the theme: “Strategic Leadership and New Challenges in the Future of Work”, activities lined up for the retreat include, learning in relevant areas of trade, union ethics and morals, trade union finances and the future of work as well as discussions of diversion of membership dues and penalties and re-orientation of Congress leaders.
Past Presidents of the Nigeria Labour Congress, like the pioneer President of the NLC, Hassan Sumonu, immediate past President the NLC, Abdulwahid Omar and the Director, International Labour Organisation ILO Country Offices for Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Liaison Offices for ECOWAS, Dr Dennis Zulu, also attended the retreat.
The 2019 NLC National Leadership Retreat will end on Thursday.