By Sandra Umeh
Lagos – Ahead of the workers day usually celebrated annually on May 1, some labour stakeholders on Friday stressed the need for an enhanced social welfare for workers to promote good labour relations in the country.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that every democratic nation must, as a matter of responsibility, be disposed to ensuring an adequate welfare and social protection for its workforce.
Recall that workers day, usually May 1, is an international day set aside to commemorate the achievements of labour movements and is usually declared a public holiday.
According to them, a sustained labour relationship can only be achieved where there is access to productive and remunerated work, in line with international best practices.
A Lagos-based lawyer and rights campaigner, Mr. Spurgeon Ataene, said that although the workforce today can almost narrowly be redefined to mean the civil service and politics, the celebration of workers day goes beyond these two groups of workforce.
According to him, a nation’s labour force transcends beyond public service to even the labourers in industries, adding that there is the need for government to revive ailing industries in the country.“Sustained labour relations can only be made possible if there is access to productive and remunerated work in Nigeria in line with international best practices.
“Today, work is almost redefined to mean the civil service and politics; it is important for government to revive ailing industries and to also set up more,” Ataene said.
He noted that safety in workplaces must be made a cardinal objective of government.
“Every worker must be entitled to social protection packages to enhance competence and trust.
“Sustained labour relations of this magnitude can only bring about economic growth and higher standards of living with attendant low cost of living in a well-secured environment,” the lawyer said.
Also, a member of the Alaba Trade Union, Mr Peter Nnorom, said that there should be prospects for personal development and social reintegration of workers.
Nnorom urged that pensions and all entitlements of workers should be taken seriously by government so as to keep workers motivated to work, adding that workers ought to be free to air their opinions where the need arises.
“It is important for every workplace to make provisions for collective agreement and to also allow workers to be entitled to collective bargaining in the event of a dispute.
“Freedom of association is key to survival of any workforce and this should not be stifled; workers must organise themselves and participate in decision-making,” he said.
Similarly, Mr. Isaiah Adesola, the National Secretary of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), said that following the ongoing industrial action by the union, it was important for government to be responsive to the needs of its workforce.
Adesola said that as the nation prepared to commemorate its 2021 edition of the workers’ day, it should also serve as a clarion call to responsiveness and adherence to enabling labour laws.
“Employers of labour, whether private or public, should abide by the provisions of the labour laws and be bound by its constitutional provisions,” he said.
According to the JUSUN scribe, governors are enjoined in the spirit of the workers’ day celebration to give effect to overriding constitutional provisions on financial autonomy for the judiciary.
He said that this was the major reason for the industrial action embarked on by JUSUN.