ABUJA – Mr Kabiru Turaki, the supervising Minister, Ministry of Labour and Productivity, on Thursday expressed optimism that the Joint Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (JOHESU) strike will end in few days.
Turaki, who spoke at the 2nd Registrar of Trade Unions’ Workshop on Current Challenges and Prospects of Trade Union Administration in Nigeria, said it was time for unions to embrace a more friendly approach to conflict resolution.
He said he had met with members of JOHESU for more than four times since he assumed duty as the supervising minister and discussed at length on the issue, adding that resolution was in sight.
“We have been discussing with them and with the level of understanding now, we have gone to an advanced stage of discussion.
“I have appealed to them and I am still appealing to them; the Minister of Health has appealed to them and so have many Nigerians, to return to their responsibility.
“This is because, while they have the right to embark on industrial action, they must also appreciate that their rights end where the rights of other Nigerians begin.
“So, this balancing must continue and at the end, we must be very patriotic and look at Nigeria which is the bigger picture in whatever we are doing, to respond to our civic duty.
Turaki said that workers were the bedrock of the economy so they should strive to keep abreast with global best practices, especially as it concerns union issues.
“The world indeed has become a global village and as we continue to move progressively with the other parts of the world we should note that we are being seen.
“So in whatever we do, wheresoever we do it and howsoever we do it, we should know that people are watching and they will judge us in line with our knowledge of global best practice.
“Times have changed and so have the method of doing things, gone are the days when labour unions believe there is no way for collective bargaining.
“Gone are the days when labour leaders will think that unless they go on strike they will not be able to achieve their mandate.
“We must remember that our country is greater than all of us; so whatever option we decide to take at the end of the day, we must be able to bear at the back of our minds that this country has to survive for all of us to continue to remain either as employers of labour or providers of labour.’’
Turaki urged unions to always embrace dialogue to protect the progress of the country, adding:“we need each other and we must appreciate that the system will need to survive for us to primarily remain as workers, because unless we are workers we, can’t be members of any union.’’
Also speaking, Ms Sina Chuma-Mkandawire, the Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Representative, expressed worry that the Nigerian trade unions seemed to be faced with more challenges than some other countries for obvious reasons.
Chuma-Mkandawire, who was represented by Dr Runo Onosode, a director in ILO, identified the challenges as institutional weakness, inadequate resources and membership challenges.
She said these challenges impinged on institutional development and the way trade unions organised themselves.
“We should aim at building formidable labour institutions which are democratic, with transparent governance systems that benefit both institutions and the advancement of trade union members,’’ she said.
Earlier, Dr Clement Illoh, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Productivity, said the theme of the workshop was “Empowering Trade Unions Towards Effective Conflict Management for Productivity Enhancement and Economic Transformation’’.
Illoh said that the workshop was aimed at addressing the incessant industrial conflicts and jurisdictional scope issues among the trade unions because unions had continually experienced crisis. (NAN)