Monday, 4th December 2023

Uphold workers’ rights, ITUC-Africa tells Tinubu

By Gloria Nwafor
30 September 2023   |   4:07 am
Ahead of Nigeria's 63rd Independence Day celebration, the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to champion...


Ahead of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day celebration, the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to champion the cause of human and workers’ rights in the country by setting examples that uphold human and workers’ rights that would inspire other governments in the sub-region.

ITUC-Africa said this is paramount, especially as Tinubu is the current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

A statement by ITUC-Africa General Secretary, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, issued in Lome, Togo, said Nigeria was duty-bound to uphold the fundamental principles of democracy and the civil rights of its citizens.

ITUC-Africa called upon Nigerian employees, their trade union organisations and the people to remain steadfast in their commitment to democracy, urging them to continue to engage in a democracy that genuinely serves their interests and aspirations.

The body said it was deeply concerned about the current attempts in Nigeria to undermine and encroach upon the democratic and civic rights of Nigerian workers, having received reliable information from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) alleging that the Federal Government was planning to exert control over trade union organisations and their leadership through various means, including the use of force by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

It alleged that the Federal Government’s deployment of a publicly funded institution against Nigerian workers resulted in the violent death of one worker, who was fatally shot by the police.

The trade union body said it demands a thorough investigation, prosecution and appropriate sanctions for the police personnel involved in the heinous crime.

It alleged that it was also disheartening to witness the government’s disinformation regarding trade unions in Nigeria, branding them as “enemies of the state” to tarnish their reputation.

The statement added: “This unwholesome tactic is exacerbated by the government’s misguided perception of trade unions as a political opposition entity due to the significant support garnered by the Labour Party in recent elections. ITUC-Africa asserts that attempts to weaken trade unions and diminish their influence are counterproductive and directly contravene internationally recognised labour rights and principles.”

It therefore called on the Nigerian government to immediately cease the attacks and engage in constructive dialogue with the labour movement for the betterment of Nigerian workers’ rights and interests.

According to the body, the persistent disregard of ILO conventions is not only regrettable, but also tarnishes Nigeria’s international reputation as a champion of labour rights.

It alleged that the antagonistic approach towards trade unions undermines their essential role in advancing industrial harmony and productivity, as well as contradicts the principles of democratic governance and social dialogue.

“Since the advent of democracy in 1999, Nigeria has made significant strides on the path of liberal democracy. This progress owes much to the tireless efforts and sacrifices made by workers, organised labour and the Nigerian populace as a whole.

“It has long been the people’s conviction that their rights would be preserved, their well-being genuinely considered, and their welfare substantially improved under a thriving democracy. Nigerian workers, in unity, have fervently believed that an independent and democratic state would better secure their rights, both in the workplace and the community, contributing to the nation’s overall progress. This conviction has driven them to stand resolutely against colonialism, and military rule, much like their counterparts in other parts of Africa.

“The Nigerian constitution firmly upholds the right of all Nigerians, including workers, to political participation. Therefore, the involvement of Nigerian workers and trade unions in politics, democratic processes, and their affiliation with the Nigerian Labour Party are not unusual or objectionable. It is worth noting that similar relationships exist in other democracies,” the statement noted.