The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has urged the Federal Government to respect the Collective Bargaining Agreements entered into with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions in the tertiary institutions in the country.
The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, made the call in the 2022 Easter message to workers and Nigerians with the theme, “Hope That Never Dies’’, on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, millions of Nigerian university students, especially those attending public citadels of higher learning, are celebrating Easter outside the precincts of their campuses.
“This is not by reason of choice but because our country cut short their hopes.
“The inability of the government to deliver on commitments it reached with our university workers, both academic and non-academic, has ensured that the streak of instability battering and buffeting our tertiary education system remains unresolved.
“It is even most tragic that the majority of the affected students are children from poor homes whose parents cannot afford to pay the outrageous fees charged by private universities.
“Tragically, while students from poor homes are held back by frustrating cycles of strike actions, the children of the rich and powerful are on private campuses learning.“There is no sadder premiere of the Social Apartheid in our society than the intermittent and protracted strike actions in our public universities,’’ he said.
He, therefore, added, “We demand respect for Collective Bargaining Agreements signed with unions in our tertiary institutions and other sectors.”
Wabba also noted that many workers in Nigeria are yet to enjoy the national minimum wage almost four years after it was signed into law, noting that Cross River, Taraba and Zamfara are the states yet to implement the national minimum wage.
The NLC president also said that Nigerian pensioners are not spared as many of them are denied their gratuity and pension arrears.
He said, tragically, while wages remain the same and sometimes are unpaid, the cost of living keeps skyrocketing. Inflation has eroded the purchasing power of workers as the Naira continued to lose its value.
According to him, the congress salutes the indefatigable spirit of Nigerian workers, while urging them to keep believing that a new Nigeria that is workers- and people-friendly is possible in our lifetime.
“This Easter, we ask government and private sector employers to meet workers halfway and put a glow to our hopes believing that a new Nigeria that is workers- and people-friendly is possible in our lifetime.
“States yet to fully implement the national minimum wage should do so immediately. We demand immediate clearing of pension arrears owed to our retirees.
“Employers should deliver on prompt salary payment, periodic salary increment, promotion, regular training, access to social housing, affordable healthcare, paid vacation cum sick leave and compensation for injury at work.
“Congress pledges to continue to deploy labour standards to fight for and defend the rights and interests of Nigerian workers.
“Workers should also be conscious that we all have a collective duty in this regard,’’ he said.
Wabba also said the mass killings in Plateau State, the Abuja-Kaduna train bomb attack, among others, are awakening to the reality of the expansion of the wings of evil on the shores of the country.
He said congress demands that government must ensure the swift and safe return of all abductees.
He added “we also demand compensation for all those killed and injured in the attack.
“As Christ rose from the dead, Nigeria will arise from the current ashes of despondency and chaos and take its rightful position in the comity of great nations.
“This hope of a great country enabled by its working people shall never die,’’ he said.