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National Conference: NLC, TUC reject proposed removal of labour matters from exclusive legislative list

ABUJA – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Sunday asked the National Conference not to move labour matters from the exclusive legislative list to concurrent list.President of TUC, Malam Bobboi Kaigama, made the call in Abuja at a joint conference of both umbrella labour unions.

He said that if such a move was allowed to sail through, it could destroy the country and return it to a period when there was no centrally co-ordinated labour union.

“Our attention has been drawn to the report credited to the Chairman of the Committee on Devolution of Power at the ongoing National Conference, Victor Attah.

“He was quoted as saying the committee had decided to transfer all labour matters from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.

“This is contrary to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Society, Labour and Sports, which is specifically assigned to deliberate on labour matters at the National Conference,” Kaigama said.

The TUC leader said the danger of not having a central co-ordinating labour would be industrial chaos.

Kaigama added that if labour issues were allowed to exit the exclusive list, this would jeopardise the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 144 of 1976 which Nigeria is a signatory to.

He said now was the time to move the country forward by strengthening all the institutions which had for long fostered national unity and cohesion.

“Those who have contributed to the rot of the past, which has brought the country to this sorry state, should not be allowed to mislead us again into taking retrogressive steps,’’ the labour leader said.

Kaigama said since governors and other political office-holders had their salaries fixed nationally by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), workers should not be denied the minimum wage.

The union leader said members of the committee needed to be educated on the logic and final implications of what they were canvassing for.

He said labour might resort to lobbying other delegates to the conference before the recommendation was tabled before the conference plenary.

“We the organised labour won’t tell you our last joker. We will definitely do something.

“When we get to the river, we will find a way of crossing it,’’ Kaigama said.

In his contribution, the NLC Chief Economist, Peter Ozo-Eson, said what the committee was attempting to do was to cripple the labour movement, especially at the national level.

“Some governors under the aegis of Governors Forum started this just after the minimum wage issue. They actually misunderstood the way these things work.

“They don’t seem to understand the implications of what they are asking for.

“Those who are familiar with labour history in this country will remember that there was a time when there were house unions and no central national union. But what did we have?

“It was really an environment of a very unstable industrial relationship,” he said.(NAN)

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