Communique by Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lagos.
At its meeting held on Friday 11th December, 2015, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) deliberated extensively on welfare issues affecting Nigerian Workers including the state of the nation, and resolved as follows:
1. State of the Nation
The NEC-in-Session commends the zero-tolerance stance of President Buhari’s administration on issues of corruption. In particular, the NEC enjoins the Federal Government to track all the looters of our commonwealth, including various sums of money involved in the latest arms scam. All the culprits must be duly prosecuted and looted funds recovered to the treasury.
2. Treasury Single Account (TSA) Policy
The NEC-in-Session also commends the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the government, as much as it is geared towards curbing corruption. We however condemn in serious terms the use of consultants for the collection of the accruing monies, and advocate that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should take over the process of TSA management.
3. Minimum Wage
The NEC-in-Session condemns the statement of the Chairman of the Governors Forum that they can no longer pay the minimum wage, and that the minimum wage was forced on them when oil sold for $126 per barrel against the present price of $41 per barrel. We insist as follows:
a.That the governors are merely being true to their tradition in concocting flimsy excuses when the interests of workers and the masses are in contention.
b.That the question of imposition does not arise since the negotiations leading to the enactment of minimum wage passed through all the tenets of the International Labour Organisation’s tripartism. This is so because the employers – both private (NECA) and public (government) – as well as the organised labour and government (as regulator) were all involved.
c.That the statement is diversionary as minimum wage is due for upward review.
d.Despite the antics of the governors, labour will go ahead to submit a proposal for review.
4. Government’s Policy Somersault.
The NEC-in-Session condemns in its totality government’s frequent policy somersaults, a factor which is responsible for our under-development. A case in point is the planned re-institution of toll gates presumably to help raise funds for government. It is still recallable that toll gates were in existence up to Obasanjo’s regime when the infamous decision to abolish them was taken. It is even more worrisome to note that the cost of demolition of the toll gates was more than the cost of building them in the first place.
5. Fuel Scarcity and Subsidy
The NEC-in-Session wonders why fuel scarcity which appeared to have gone with history at the advent of Buhari’s administration suddenly resurfaced with greater intensity. The NEC-in-Session however commends the stance of the Federal Government not to remove fuel subsidy, in consideration for the common man. However, the NEC-in-Session enjoins the Federal Government to find a permanent solution to fuel crisis, especially through revamping the existing oil refineries, building new ones, and stepping up the fight against crude oil theft, oil pipeline vandalism and corruption in the oil and gas sector. We believe that with all these effectively done, the dependence on importation of refined oil products will drastically reduce, which in turn will naturally fizzle out the need to pay any form of subsidy for them. It will also automatically boost employment in line with the government’s drive to create more jobs.
6. Foreign Exchange Policy
The Federal Government should take a second look at the list of 42 prohibited items in its foreign exchange policy. It should make the policy flexible so that genuine manufacturers can access needed raw materials.
7. Health Sector
i) The NEC-in-Session calls on the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Productivity to address all pending issues that were products of collective bargaining agreement.
ii) Privatisation of Federal Teaching Hospitals
We reject in totality the proposal by the Federal Government of Nigeria to privatise or commercialise the services of the tertiary health institutions across the country. The introduction of such a policy will undoubtedly remove healthcare services from the reach of the common man in Nigeria. We however call on the Federal Government to urgently address the issue of improving the standard of Healthcare.
8. Anti-Union Practices by Some Employers
The NEC-in-Session notes with dismay the unhealthy industrial spirit of some employers, particularly the indiscriminate disengagement of workers for being members of trade unions, despite intervention by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity. The government should therefore guard against anti-labour policies such as casualisation and resistance to unionisation of workers by some companies. Offenders need to be promptly apprehended and prosecuted.
9. Power Sector
The NEC-in-Session acknowledges the efforts of government in developing the power sector. However we note that a lot still need to be done to improve the power situation in order to protect and stimulate industrial growth and development.
The NEC-in-Session further notes the attempted liquidation of PHCN without settlement of all labour liabilities as contained in the agreement between representatives of Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Ministry of Power, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation on the one part and trade unions in the power sector. We strongly advise against that attempt, in the interest of industrial peace and harmony.
10. Illegal Recruitments in the Public Service
The NEC-in-Session frowns at the vexed issue of illegal recruitment in the public service, and urges the Federal Government to henceforth ensure that all appointments are strictly guided by public service rules, scheme of service, establishment circulars, and Federal Civil Service Commission’s guidelines on appointment, promotion and discipline in the public service.
11. Outstanding Arrears Owed Workers
The NEC calls on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency settle all outstanding arrears of salaries, promotion, and other allowances owed federal workers since compilation of the indebtedness had since been concluded.
12. Local Content
The NEC-in Session urges the National Assembly to accelerate the passage of the Local Content Bill in the construction industry which has gone through second reading in the 7th Assembly, in order to stem the high inflow of expatriates labour and create more scope for teaming youths to be gainfully employed.
The NEC-in-Session commends the Federal Government for the bail-out extended to needy state governments to pay outstanding arrears of salaries of workers. The NEC-in-Session calls on the affected state governments to ensure that the bail-out funds are strictly used to settle workers old entitlements and not diverted to other uses.
Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama Comrade (Barr.) Musa Lawal
President Secretary General.