IUF seeks Buhari’s intervention in agric workers’ plight
TO successfully reposition Nigeria’s agricultural sector, stakeholders have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to address all issues relating to welfare of workers.
According to the stakeholders, one of the issues is the implementation of the contentious hazard allowance for the workers in the agricultural and allied sector.
They explained that the agitation has been on for the past 15 years, adding that successive governments failed to address the issues adequately.
Speaking at an interactive session with Journalists, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurants, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Association (IUF), called on Buhari to as a matter of priority approve for implementation the allowance, whose memorandum according to them had been forwarded to the last Federal Executive Council in April this year for approval before the handing over in May.
The Chairman, Nigeria Council of the IUF, Leke Success, said the international body decided to wade in, to impress upon the Federal Government on the importance of the hazard allowance as its members in the sector continue to suffer one level of injury or the other in the discharge of their jobs.
Explaining further, he said: “Our demand is against the backdrop of the avowed determination of President Buhari to diversify our economy and make agriculture the pillar for national growth and development.
“We believe that for this to be realised, genuine efforts must be made to resolve all issues capable of hindering the smooth operation and administration of all necessary policies being designed for revival of agricultural activities in the country.”
Success lamented that over the years, the agricultural workers had taken the line of dialogue instead of outright confrontation to demand for the implementation, adding that their counterparts in the livestock and veterinary sub-sector, “categorized as health workers have been enjoying the benefit”.
He explained that the demand for the implementation of the allowance for workers under the Agriculture and Allied Employees’ Union of Nigeria (AAEUN) is not on the basis of a penchant for allowances, but rather on a realistic appreciation of occupational dangers workers in the sector come across on a day-to-day basis in the discharge of their duties.
He submitted that international and local research have validated that out of a total 335,000 fatal workplace accidents that occur annually worldwide, “about 170,000, more than half, involve workers engaged in agricultural activities”.
Success stated further that even the advent of technology aimed at reducing stress and hardship associated with agriculture, has come with new risks, “related to not only the operation of sophisticated machinery such as tractors and harvesters, but also exposure resulting from intensive use of pesticides, and a variety of agrochemicals which often account for high rates of illness, injury and even death of workers in the sector.
The National President of AAEUN, Simeon Anchaver, in his contributions expressed dismay at the rate of accidents been recorded daily, warning that the new government should be honourable enough to complete the process which has gone through many negotiations in the past 15 years as the union would not want to resort to strike or other means of industrial action.
He said: “We call on the new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, to immediately set the machinery in motion for implementation of hazard allowance to employees in the agricultural sector.”
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