Family Affair

WORKERS DAY, HOW FAR, SO FAR? With Dr Nma Olebara (FCAI)

1st May is celebrated world wide as International Workers Day. The day is dedicated to celebrate workers victory, solidarity, freedom, productivity and invaluable contributions to societal growth. It also captures the various labour celebrations, victories and ceremonies encountered by workers, in their struggles to achieve better working conditions for themselves. This includes the eight man hour working period per worker, per day.

In 1856, it was resolved inAustraliathat the day is made a public holiday and it spread around the world. The working class on this day celebrate the day as a mark of solidarity for themselves and sympathy for the oppressed and exploited of the world. It also reaffirms its continued fight to stamp out the evil system of capitalism. The celebration of workers Day inNigeriastarted during Shagari’s democratic administration on May 1, 1981.

InNigeria, many trade unions, and workers Associations such as Nigeria Labour congress (NLC) the Congress for Free Trade Union (CFTU), Trade Union Congress (TUC) Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTWT) Pengassan, NUPENG etc would hold their celebration rallies at different points, singly or collectively.

As Nigerian workers celebrate this year’s May Day, is there really cause for celebration? I believe that for the fact that millions are still alive today, alone, calls for celebration. We must rejoice that the Lord, our God has given us this day to celebrate and praise Him. For this singular reason, we should thank the most High God who has continued to provide for us regardless of our sinful nature and short comings.

Workers have been in a state of grief and despair because of the despicable and exploitation of their Iabour and sweat by their employers. The financial future of the worker is unpredictable and much is not been done to raise the standards of living of these hard working citizens. They are adversely affected by the stressful economic situations in the country.

Workers used to months of hope and anguish unsure of how to make ends meet, as the trek long distances to their work places. They have resigned to accepting this situation without question. They work very hard with a less incentive than most races and have the responsibilities in their families-provide their needs, pay house rent, school fees, manage their health needs that keep life going. But thank God for the recent increase of N18,000 Minimum wage. Workers need a lot of motivation and their promotions and salaries should be paid as at when due, if their welfare is taken care of, they should reciprocate government gesture by being dedicated to their work so as ensure sustainable development. Government should avoid acts that would make workers embark on strikes because they are inimical to the progress of the country.

What is sauce for the goose, they say is also sauce for the gander. I think that Nigerian workers also need decent and affordable accommodations, Medicare and social security. It is a shameful thing that a worker inNigeriafinds it very difficult to build a room and a parlour. Do we blame them? No way! A person must first of all eat before thinking of building a house and ride a car. Those who have retired are worst hit. The plight of the workers leaves much to be desired. They stay between three to five years without their gratuities and monthly pensions.

To whom much is given, much is expected; I believe that labour leaders should address these lapses. They should sit up and works towards decorum to improve the organizations and welfare of their workers and retirees: A situation where elder statesmen or these senior citizens cannot get their gratuities before they die is heartbreaking.

My appeal goes to the Federal Government to take opportunity of the workers day to reflect on the plight of the workers and meditate on the lamentations of the General Secretary of steel and Engineering workers union Comrade Kasumu Kadiri on the plight of Nigerian workers in the present day economy which has rendered the take home pay of workers useless.

*1 am not happy about the situation in the country. Ordinarily, one would have expected salaries to be regular, inflation checked by the National Assembly, for people to feel relieved. This is the basis of governance. They should look at all these and provide an enabling environment for people to live”

Why then, if I may ask, does a nation exist? A nation exists primarily for the peace, progress, prosperity, happiness and security of her people. This is fundamentally the essence of what it means for a nation to work for her people. Any nation that fails to provide them is a failed nation. A nation must create an enabling environment for the liberation and actualization of the innate potentials of her people. Are we ready to makeNigeriaa better place for all? This is a challenge for all to put hands on deck. We cannot claim to be giants ofAfricawhen we cannot produce our local needs of fuel and power, no shelter and free Medicare for her people.

This year’s celebration should serve as an opportunity for careful reflection on the apparent hopelessness of workers situation and the formulation of possible solutions.

However, labour should continue to play its role in protecting workers rights, enhancing their welfare and creating more avenues for work and satisfaction.

On the other hand, labour should as a matter of patriotism live above fighting and wining wars for its members alone. It should morally concern itself with their abandonment and sufferings of the non working class, realizing that they (labour people) are only a privileged few in a population of about 150 million. Apart from waging wars against governments for their inefficiencies or neglect, labour should sanitize itself since some of its members make themselves available as conduit pipes for treasury looting. It is also a known fact that all electoral malpractice in the electoral system could not have succeeded without the active collaboration of a good number of its membership who act as registration or electoral officers during elections.

May this year’s celebrate promote hard work, success, patriotism, dignity of labour and enhance workers welfare.

May workers express their appreciation of the value of work for the rapid progress of our country?

And may God above all grant workers industrial peace, unity and harmony-Amen and Amen.

 

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