Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC has called for the inclusion of labour as a critical social partner in the inter-ministerial economic response team set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to combat Covid-19 challenge
NLC Presidnet, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a letter which was titled programme of action by the Nigeria Labour Congress, organized labour and civil society in response to the novel corona virus (covid-19) pandemic, explained that orgainsed labour is ready to set up situation room that will interface with the inter-ministerial committee on policy interventions and recommendations on post Covid-19 economic response.
Wabba explained that the Situation room, which will also engage with the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders on the expansion and distribution of palliatives and other social support initiatives in a manner that captures every Nigerian especially the working poor, daily income workers and other workers in the informal sector, leveraging on technology and interface with the committee.
The NLC in a letter to the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Barr. Boss Mustapha emphasized that this is crucial, given that informal sector workers constitute more than 70% of the entire workforce in the country.
NLC boss said, “Furthermore, we must press that many daily income workers in the informal sector are not benefitting from government palliatives thus putting additional pressure on the savings of formal sector workers. It is important that we engage government on these issues in order not to compound job losses, income shortfall and wage poverty.”
According to the letter, “We laud the stimulus package of about N3.5 trillion naira for SMEs and other business concerns by the Central Bank of Nigeria. This should target priority areas such as large-scale businesses, manufacturing and small and medium scale enterprises.
“Other sectors that the stimulus fund should target include the transport, aviation, hospitality and the financial sector. The stimulus package should also target the informal sector employees and artisans who earn their living on daily basis.
“While we commend government for being proactive, we opine that the stimulus package would be best served through consultation with social partners. Labour and private sector employers have a good understanding of industries where jobs and production are in most danger.
“We also believe that palliatives distribution by Government can be improved through increased stakeholder participation. Mass-based organizations such as labour has the grassroots presence, especially at wards and units, and can ensure that palliatives get to those who really need them – the poorest of the poor who cannot afford a meal per day. We posit that using the old platform will not deliver the desired result”
The labour also said that it is interested in the recovery of jobs, restoration of income, and sustainability of livelihood especially at the end of the current lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.
NLC said the Congress and its civil society allies will engage government on various issues in order not to compound job losses, income shortfall and wage poverty at the end of the lockdown.
“Nigerian workers wear the workplace shoes and would feel most the pinch of Covid-19 aftershocks” it said.