As workers across the globe commemorate May Day, organised labour, under the auspices of Trade Union Congress (TUC), has condemned the the victimisation of workers following the outbreak of coronavirus. Speaking in Lagos, the Chairman, TUC, Lagos State Council, Comrade Gbenga Ekundayo, said the day provided an opportunity to condemn, in strong terms, all unfair labour practices at this critical time.
This year’s theme is “COVID- 19 pandemic, social and economic crisis; challenges for decent jobs, social protection and peoples welfare.” While calling for more awareness on the right of workers by union leaders and the need for social dialogue by critical stakeholders, Ekundayo tasked government to, as a matter of urgency, look for ways to strengthen the social security system so that workers can be adequately protected at all times. According to him, “we must also stress the point that post- COVID-19 is not the time to dispense with labour.
Collaboration between all social partners in the industrial relations arena at this critical period in the world of work is the only way to go. “Employers of labour must, as a matter of necessity, carry labour along on critical decisions at this time. This is the only way that collective bargaining agreement can be respected and enforced in an atmosphere where international best practices are adopted in resolving dispute amicably.” Specifically, he commended all the workers, who were on the frontline when the pandemic took a toll on humanity and the economy.
He expressed delight over the possibility of organising the day, saying on this same day last year, the whole country was on a lockdown based on the measures taken by the government to curb the spread of the pandemic that is ravaging the world.
“Our gathering here today is an indication that humanity is gradually winning the war against this pandemic. This wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of workers all over the world, especially the frontline health workers. “Today is our day and we all deserve to be celebrated. On this note, I want to say a big thank you to all the frontline health workers, those workers at the laboratories working day and night to ensure we get the vaccine, the nurses, our security agencies, LASTMA officers, fire service officers, KAI officers, LAWMA workers, civil servants, essential workers across essential industries; you all are the reasons we are gathered here today. “Please let us all use the next 1 minute to applaud all these amazing and wonderful heroes.
From the bottom of our hearts, we say a big thank you,” he noted On her part, the Chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress, Lagos State council, Comrade Agness Funmi Sessi, expressed appreciation to the Lagos State government for supporting labour through the hard times and for giving it the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate workers in the atate. According to her, the period, no doubt, has been an unpalatable one as workers have been the worst hit by the pandemic characterised by massive loss of jobs and sources of livelihoods, especially in the private sector, through factory closures, redundancies, and salary cuts. Workers indeed deserve to be celebrated.
She said: “We appreciate the government for a mutually beneficial working relationship and granting a labour friendly environment coupled with the prompt payment of salaries even as the effects of the pandemic ravages the economy of the state where some states cutting or owing salaries.”