NLC president canvases universal protection for workers


The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has canvassed for a universal protection cover that would address the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and other future occurrences that require such an intervention.

President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said this while speaking with newsmen on the sideline of the ongoing 110th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We are working assiduously on the issue of universal social protection, one of the issues that have come up very clearly with the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that we do not have any means of social protection.

“Unlike other climes, everybody benefits from social protection whether you are in small or medium-scale enterprises or unemployed. They have a database and they use the database to transfer money directly into the account of everybody. A fraction of the taxes being paid is actually paid as a social security cover for workers to actually address issues of COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Wabba also noted that when the COVID-19 pandemic started there was threat of mass sack in which the NLC reached an agreement with employers of labour, adding that Nigerians were the first among unions and employers in Africa to actually have an accord so that they should also protect the sustainability of the production lines.

The agreement was signed to say that we would not support any company or any establishment that would just use the COVID-19 scourge excuse to sack workers just like we had with Access Bank that want to actually sack workers en masse,” he said.

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He explained that the agreement was still subsisting and thank labour had kept watch to ensure that the agreement would be respected by all employees, stressing: “I can say that Nigerian employers are organised labour are on the same page, as the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic should not be used to sack workers en masse,” he stressed.

On occupational safety, Wabba said most workers were affected as there are no provisions for them to receive social protection cover.

“This time around, labour centres around the world including the working class have put on the table to make occupational health and safety fundamental human right. It is the first instrument that the 110th session has already passed and it will be adopted during plenary.

“Part of the instruments to drive that particular decision is convention 155 and convention 187 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which are fundamental conventions of the occupation health and safety. I think with that we would be able to go back home to domesticate these two important conventions,” he stressed.

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