NLC and the plight of Nigerian factory workers – Part 2
If the government has failed or not lived up to the expectation in this area, I think the NLC which is even closer to workers should rise to the occasion and fill the gap created by government. There are many ways it (NLC) can achieve this. First of all, my appeal goes to Comrade Joe Ajaero and his fellow comrades. They are labour leaders today, some were there before them, and certainly some will succeed them. It is on this note; I urge them (NLC leaders) to have a mindset that these Nigerian workers are going through various degrees of pains in their own fatherland. NLC under Ajaero should be more proactive in this aspect. I have few suggestions which I believe if NLC buys into will stop this nonsense from these foreign tormentors. One of such suggestions is that NLC should endearvour to lobby the government to introduce and implement policies that will check the excesses of these foreigners/employees relationship which has been unfriendly and inhuman, and it is obvious that our people are at the receiving end.
Suggestion relating to the above is that NLC should apply the same pressure it often applies to get government do its bidding. It is very certain that if NLC announces that companies must conform with the government’s laid down rules and regulation over workers’ welfare; no one will refuse to comply. If this is done in good fate, poor remuneration will give way to the good one. It (NLC) should not stop there. There is this story of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former NLC President during his tenure. I urge Comrade Ajaero to emulate him (Oshiomhole). During his tenure as a labour leader, he (Oshiomhole) embarked on a tour of companies. After his meeting with the Management of a certain company, he decided to go round the factory and see the workers. While going round the factory, he paused and acknowledged the dexterity and expertise of a worker operating a machine. The following conversation ensued between Oshiomhole and the operator; Oshiomhole: young man, you’re so good at the machine
Operator: thank you sir
Oshiomhole: how long have you been working here
Operator: twelve (12) years, sir
Oshiomhole: Are you a staff?
Operatotor: No sir!
The story goes thus that Oshiomhole got so mad with the Nigerian managers and senior staffs around that he was hitting them with anything he could lay his hand on. This Oshiomhole’s actions on that fateful day would definitely have lasting positive effects on many workers who have been enslaved as casual in the company in question. I am appealing to Comrade Ajaero to do this and more. You might not necessarily visit all these companies by yourself as it is not doable, but you can delegate trustworthy members who will not betray or compromise to do this on your behalf. These oppressed workers in question need to be visited without prior notice to the Management. If this measure is taken once in a while, these employers will sit tight and take the welfare of their employees seriously.
Last but not the least of my suggestions is the issue of workers’ union. Many companies have made a workers’ union an aberration. They (companies) applied full weight of their companies’ laws against any worker(s) who attempt to bring union into the companies. Many workers have lost their jobs due to incidents like this. Companies ought to have nothing to fear over the proposed workers’ union, if they do not have sinister (evil) agenda against their workers. Most of these companies who are enslaving our people find fertile ground to do this evil because they do everything within their power to prevent the setting up of workers’ union. I urge NLC under Ajaero’s watch to go a step further to lobby our lawmakers to pass a bill that will make it unlawful for companies with more than fifty (50) workers not have a union. As we read this, hundreds, if not thousands of companies are in our country tampering or violating our peoples’ rights due to the lack of workers’ union. We have been magnanimous enough to provide a fertile ground for them (foreigners) to set up their businesses, we should not be foolish to make it a normal thing for them to continue to oppress and enslave our people. If the country is not conducive and suitable, they (foreigners) would not think of being here in the first place.
Having revealed all these atrocities and injustice our people are suffering in the hands of these identified foreign employers, I hope Comrade Ajaero and his executives will not overlook or underrate this letter. Rather, they will see it as an incitement to double their efforts to free their compatriots from man-made bondage. Politicians/elected office holders have no legacies to leave behind but the fulfillment of their campaign promises to make lives better and more meaningful for the people but in the case of NLC, its main duty and responsibility remains the promotion and protection of workers’ interests and rights.
On a final note, I congratulate Comrade Ajaero and other executive members on their elections and I wish them a successful and blissful tenure.
Olawole, Historian and Public Affairs Analyst can be reached via 08033192133 or Kaakaki2005@gmail.com