LOCKDOWN: Labour calls for support for workers
By Samuel Ogunsona
The United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) has called on the Federal and State Governments to rise to the growing economic challenges faced by workers in the midst of the national lockdown.
In a statement made available to Irohinoodua on Monday, ULC President Joe Ajaero said hos group is compelled at this time to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the urgent need to take action to support Nigerian workers who are not just at the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19 Pandemic but also those who provide essential services that are ancillary to the overall success against the outbreak.
Ajaero said “We have received several complaints from our affiliates of continuous harassment and intimidation against their members in the hands of some overzealous Security operatives while on the way to or back from their places of work while yet others have been beaten in the process of delivering their services.”
He said he has received workers’ complain of being side-lined from the distribution of the COVID-19 relief package which they see in the news on daily basis adding that the workers believe that they ae being punished rather than rewarded for their commitment to the battle against the pandemic.
Ajaero said “The continued manhandling of workers in the Electricity sector, in the Oil and Gas sector, in the Aviation sector, in the Health Sector and indeed even journalists who are in their various beats is unacceptable and ought to be corrected immediately.”
He said further “Without these men, there will be no Electricity for our homes, No Fuel to run our Cars and generators, our Airspaces will remain unmanned thus exposed to abuse and much more, the hospitals both traditional and orthodox cannot remain open. How can we win this battle if these men are not actively supported by protecting them and compensating them for the risks they take on daily basis?”
He said ULC worried that workers who are at the frontlines of this battle are not adequately protected not only against being infected but from violence of agents of the government who are supposed to protect them so that they can provide their services as required by all in the effort to contain the outbreak.
“We cannot effectively engage this Pandemic without giving Nigerian workers the needed support and encouragement to give their best. For this to happen, their protection must be uppermost in the minds of all actors within the society. If these workers cannot work, the battle against the disease is dead on arrival. It is only when the environment allows them to do their work unfettered that the collective effort against COVID-19 can be successful” Ajaero said.
ULC also urged the government to quickly sensitise its security operatives on the need to change their attitudes towards members of the public especially those who are at work. We had expected proper education of the agents and other enforcers of governments policies on the content thus essence of the entire strategy to contain the outbreak.
“If this had been done adequately, we are sure that the reports we are getting from the field would have been different,” he said.
According to him “If a worker has to go out to the field at this time, it becomes very important that special adequate allowances be provided for them. These are men and women who are at work while majority of us in the spaces where Lockdown has been implemented are at home relaxing and sleeping. We need to reach out to them.”
He said it will be dangerous to have those at work at this time to make all Nigerians comfortable at home and defeat COVID-19 to feel cheated in anyway.
“We would rather want them motivated rather than discouraged so that our collective effort to defeat the disease will not be a waste of time and resources. The government must do something concrete immediately to correct this apparent anomaly before it scuttles our effort” the statement added.