The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has said the recent hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, commonly known as petrol, and other perceived anti-poor policies were weapons of war against Nigerian workers and masses.
According to NLC, impoverishing workers and pushing millions more into hellish living does not, in any way, approximate sound economic management.
In an address at the opening ceremony of a four-day programme for leaders of the state councils of NLC in the south, taking place in Lagos, President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, said from all intents and purposes, the Nigerian state had declared war on the working people and the masses of Nigeria.
Represented by the Deputy President of Congress and President-General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, in the programme supported by the American Solidarity Centre, Ajaero, noted that trade union leaders must not abandon the Nigerian people and workers to their fate.
The NLC president said labour leaders across the country “must all join hands in the struggle for the articulation and protection of the rights of Nigerian workers and people with all hope that one day, workers of Nigeria will reclaim their natural rights that have been forcefully abridged and trampled upon by uninformed employers and those in government who ought to have been in the vanguard of guaranteeing such rights.
“Various governments in Nigeria have mercilessly trampled upon the rights of Nigerians without any feeling of remorse. Politicians have ganged up against the workers and the masses without any consequences.
”It is important to note that governance in Nigeria is always spoken about in paradoxical dimensions.
Governments are rooted in the lives of the people and thus ought to pursue service to them but in our nation, governance has become an instrument for inflicting pains and suffering on workers and the masses.
”Recently, we are all witnessed the steep heartless hike in the price of PMS by the federal government under the guise of the so-called petroleum subsidy withdrawal without making alternative arrangements to cushion the expected and well-known impact of such unconscionable action.
“This policy direction ought to have been the product of dialogue amongst stakeholders but was shunned by a democratically elected government which rather believes in machoism that has since left the economy reeling.
“That, clearly shows that the Nigerian State from all corners is clearly at war with the people and workers. They have mounted pressure on the people at all fronts and have robbed the people repeatedly even when the people have turned the other cheek refusing to acknowledge that governance must go hand in hand with social justice if it is to have any meaning.
”This onslaught, comrades, is not relenting and would continue if nothing is done to mediate it immediately.
“It has become exigent that we forcefully bring to the knowledge of our various leaders that rendering many more millions of Nigerians poor could not be an option for punishment.
”Moreover, impoverishing workers and pushing millions more into hellish living does not in any way approximate sound economic management.
“Nigerian workers and masses cannot continue bearing the brunt of ill-conceived policies and outright fantasies of our leaders. The continued sacrifice of poor Nigerian workers so that the rich can continue in their unbridled pleasures is beginning to push events to the edge.
“A nation with a huge number of poor people and an increasing number of the working poor is akin to mega trouble. Growth without commensurate benefits to the people is meaningless. Nigerians, workers and comrades can put a stop to this.
”The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, can halt this manifest mischief. As trade union leaders, we must not abandon the people and workers to their fate. We must not leave anything to chance and we must not sit by and watch this rape continue unabated.
“Among the heart-wrenching and serial atrocities of current employers both in the public and private sectors against Nigerian workers is the continued prevalence of abuses of the rights and privileges of the workforce in the various shopfloors which have gone unchallenged.
“Acts of impunity by lawless employers without recourse to our extant labour laws have all contributed to abridging the rights of our fellow workers in our various workplaces.
”It has suddenly become a passion and a dangerous pastime for employers to trample upon our rights as the creators and builders of the wealth of this nation.
“Across the nation, reports kept pouring in of workers deprived and denied of their basic rights and sometimes denied of their rights to fair and living wages.
”Governments at various levels owe salaries sometimes up to one year and when they manage to pay one month, they applaud themselves openly believing that the payment of earned income to workers is charity extended to workers.”