Union raises alarm over mass redundancy, factory closures in auto sector
The Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN) of the Auto and Precision sectors has raised the alarm over massive job losses and factory closures in the industry.
The union linked the redundancy and outright factory closures witnessed in the union’s sub-sectors to a harsh and dwindling economy.
The union pointed out that the economic woes have resulted in dwindling revenue generation through the check-off system, leading to the inability to pay salaries and other bills.
National President, SEWUN, Auto and Precision Sectors, Elijah Adigun, at the union’s yearly industrial relations conference and national training workshop, held in Badagry, said although the COVID-19 pandemic had played a role in some of its challenges, failure of government is responsible for the redundancies and factory closure in the sector.
Making a case for local vehicle manufacturing and assembling, he lamented the inconsistency in government policy that seems to encourage local manufacturing, while at the same time, reversing the expected gains by opening the economy to massive importation of foreign goods and services.
He said the harsh operating environment had forced companies in the sector to either reduce their workforce or close their factories.
Adigun appealed to the Federal Government to put in place policies to create jobs by ensuring factories are producing goods and services locally to replicate the economic situations in the early 80s and 90s when each company in the sector could boast of over 5,000-workforce.
He said presently, apart from Peugeot Automobile in Kaduna that has just about 150 workers, which has even denied their rights of union membership, despite consent judgement obtained at the National Industrial Court (NIJ), others have less than 50 workers.
While commending the plans to revitalise the non-performing privatised companies, Adigun urged the government to go beyond reselling the companies to getting people who have the technical competence to manage them.
Speaking on the conference theme, which was ‘Occupational Safety and Health Management in Steel and Engineering Industry in Nigeria’, labour expert, Dr R. A. Ilori maintained that safety management is a function of both workers and management of the organisations.
He said there would be fewer accidents in organisations if safety culture improves significantly. He added that it is when the employees are safe, healthy and free from accidents that they would have a meaningful contribution to the organisational development through improved productivity and reduction in medical expenses for injured workers.
In his goodwill message, State Controller, Lagos, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Nnamdi Enuah, spoke on emerging trends that have arisen in industrial relations practices.
Enuah, who was represented by the ministry’s Desk Officer for Rapid Response on Industrial Relations, Obinna Adiukwu, said actors in the system have now realised that neither the economy nor the industrial enterprise could survive by clinging to their rigid position. He added that it was important workers earn good emoluments commensurate with work delivery.
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