Political parties unveil agenda for workers

Kaigama-BALA

THE Trade Union Congress (TUC) has berated political parties for not including core labour issues in their manifestoes or as part of the major issues campaigns are centered around. 

   The President of TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, who stated this in Abuja at an interactive session with presidential candidates of major political parties, observed that no political party has unveiled how they will address the negative impacts of the recent devaluation of the Naira has had on the purchasing power of workers. 

   His words: “We believe that core issues such as wages and salaries; employment and job security; education, health and welfare of workers; strike and industrial policies; minimum wage have not been adequately addressed.

   For example, devaluation of the Naira has resulted in the wiping out of our salaries. The meager salaries, which have never been able to take workers home have now been weakened by the devaluation which we consider ill-timed and ill-advised.” 

   According to the TUC boss, Nigeria is beginning to experience ageing workforce, which may result in skill gap in the nearest future if not urgently addressed, adding, “we are concerned that while skill is needed in every aspect of our economy, we turn out graduates that are not employed or are, in some cases, unemployable.”  

In the midst of devaluation and erosion of purchasing power, “is Nigeria due for new and an enhanced minimum wage,” Kaigama asked rhetorically. 

   But for the All Progressive Congress (APC), corruption is central to the many ills befalling the nation. 

  Speaking through a former governor of Ekiti state, Segun Oni, the APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, said corruption has had corrosive effects on other sectors of the economy. 

   He added: “There are many young people today who have no job. To get a job now you have to know somebody who knows somebody, which was not the case in the good old days. What do they (PDP) want to do in the next four years when they couldn’t do anything in the last six years? We have now lost our integrity in the comity of nations because the economic challenges PDP has dragged us into. Our problems today are not about statistics but about how Nigeria and Nigerians can be better in terms of welfare and economy.”

   While condemning any move to lay off workers under any guise, he said an APC government will work with labour to ensure that the issue of productivity is addressed.

   “It is the right of labour to strike. Labour and Nigerians must stop seeing politicians as their employers. It is you workers and Nigerians that are our employers. When you elect a politician you employ them. You workers can hire and fire, like you will do in a few days’ time,” he added. 

On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said if government under its watch can implement the new minimum wage, it can repeat the feat again if and when necessary.                                                        

Represented by the Supervising Minister of Labour and Productivity, Taminu Turaki, PDP said workers’ welfare should not be reduced to salaries alone saying there are other incentives and packages that serve as add-ons that enhance workers welfare, which it is implementing. It mentioned the employee’s compensation scheme that addresses rehabilitation and compensation to workers who suffer work place related injuries and the national health insurance, which addresses the health challenges of workers for enhanced productivity.  The Minister posited that while nowhere in the world where government alone provides enough jobs for the people, PDP government is working with the private sector to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, which will in turn create massive and sustainable employment.  

Turaki said: “The PDP led government believes that there has to be critical interface and collaboration with the private sector, adding that they tried as much as possible in ensuring that there is conducive atmosphere from this set goals”. 

     The Secretary General of TUC, Musa Lawal said governance is about the welfare, security of lives and property of the people and the Congress therefore feels that engaging the political gladiators prior to elections will go a long way in enriching the democratic process and also in educating the electorates, nay the workers in exercising their franchise conscientiously.

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