SERAP Drags Government To ILO Over Unpaid Workers’ Salaries

SERAPThe thorny issue of unpaid workers continues to make the headlines with the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) dragging state governments and the Federal Government to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The organisation said that the complaint was brought pursuant to Articles 26-34 of the ILO Constitution.

SERAP is asking the ILO to establish without delay, a commission of inquiry to examine the systematic and non-observance of Convention No 29 on forced labour and other international standards on the right of workers to timely payment of salaries.

SERAP’s Complaint

”SERAP is seriously concerned that several state governments and the Federal Government of Nigeria are failing and/or refusing to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements, amounting to billions of dollars in arrears. The state governments that have failed and/or refused to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements include: Osun, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau, Benue, and Bauchi states.

SERAP argues; ”The failure and/or refusal of state governments and Federal Government to pay workers’ salaries and allowances and pensioners’ entitlements is a clear violation of the right to work recognized by various ILO instruments and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Nigeria is a state party. The right to work is essential for realizing other human rights and forms an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity.

”The Failure of states to pay workers’ salaries is tantamount to penalising them, and as the International Labour Organization has ruled, menace penalty amounts to forced labour and economic exploitation. This is because the workers have not offered themselves to work without pay.”

They also said: ”The failure to pay workers’ salaries amount to a fundamental breach of the obligation to ensure the absence of forced labour and economic exploitation, and guarantee workers’ remuneration so as to provide an income allowing workers to support themselves and their families. The right to work contributes to the survival of the individual and to that of his/her family, and to his/her development and recognition within the community. Therefore, by failing to pay workers’ salaries, the state governments in Nigeria have violated the right of the workers to live in dignity.

”There is absolutely no justification why state governments or the Federal Government in Nigeria should not pay workers’ salaries. In fact, international law provides that workers’ salaries must be paid even in times of severe resource constraints, as disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups must be protected by the adoption of targeted programmes to ensure that they live in dignity.

“The failure of the state governments and the Federal Government in Nigeria to pay workers’ salaries is as a result mismanagement of resources and corruption which under the Covenant amount to ‘deliberate retrogression’ in the protection of the right to work.

”While ordinary Nigerian workers and pensioners are routinely denied their salaries and entitlements, senior government officials continue to receive their salaries and live lavishly. This also clearly amounts to discrimination against workers on the grounds of national or social origin, or civil, political, social or other status, as it has the effect of impairing or nullifying exercise of the right to work on a basis of equality.

”The failure to pay workers’ salaries also violates Nigeria’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to work, including requiring state governments and Federal Government in Nigeria to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the enjoyment of that right and to adopt appropriate economic and budgetary measures to ensure timely payment of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.

”The failure of state governments and Federal Government in Nigeria to pay workers’ salaries show that they are unwilling to use the maximum of their available resources through insufficient expenditure or misallocation of public funds, for the realization of the right to work in violation of their obligations under Article 6.

”The country’s justice system has proven highly inadequate to enforce the right of workers to timely remuneration and freedom from economic exploitation. The state governments and Federal Government of Nigeria have taken no effective measures to address the salary crisis in the country, and have in fact significantly downplayed it.”

SERAP also said that the right to work is essential for realizing other human rights and forms an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity.

Oyo State Workers Call Off Strike

OyoThe Oyo State Chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called off its two-week old strike, ordering members to resume work effective Monday June 8 2015.

The State Chairman of the union, Waheed Olojede, disclosed this to journalists in Ibadan at the end of a joint negotiation meeting between Labour and government representatives, led by the State Head of Service, Mr Soji Eniade.

Olojede explained that the state government has accepted Labour’s demands and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to pay the workers all outstanding arrears as soon as the next allocation comes in.

The Head of Service, however, noted that government has proven its determination to open up to workers in the area of government finance, especially on federal allocation received monthly.

He said the union has informed the NLC national headquarters of this recent development and decision to end the industrial action.

The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, had on Thursday, expressed optimism that the dialogue between the government and Labour would not extend beyond the week as a mutually acceptable solution has been found to address the the issue.

Constitution Amendment: National Assembly Didn’t Remove Labour From Exclusive List

Constitution AmendmentThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, has clarified the status of minimum wage in the Constitution Amendment.

The statement by the DS on Thursday read; “The Conference report of the Constitution Review Committee recently adopted by the Senate and House of Representatives did not remove Labour from the Exclusive Legislative List.

“The Senate had earlier put Labour on the Concurrent List but the House retained it in the Exclusive List.

“During the Harmonization of the Reports from the two Chambers, the Conference Committee adopted the House version and retained Labour on the Exclusive List.

“Both Senate and the House of Representatives have now adopted the Conference Committee Report which retained Labour on the Exclusive Legislative List.”

The Deputy Speaker, who is also the Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Amendment added that the committee was “at a loss as to where the false and misleading information on this matter emanated from.”

 

Electricity Union Pickets Colleagues In Ilorin

phcn_repairsMembers of the National Union of Electricity Employees in Kwara State has embarked on picketing of the offices of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company for lack of implementation of agreements reached with the buyers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria and retrenching of their labour leaders among other demands.

The labour leaders in collaboration with the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) prevented staff from gaining access into their place of work and threaten to prevent customers from paying their bills if their demands were not met within a week.

The leaders of the National Union of Electricity Employees in conjunction with the NLC sang Labour songs to press home their demands.

They accused the new owner of the company of victimisation of their Labour leaders which include retrenchment, non-payment of full severance allowance and provision of erratic power supply.

The state chairman of the National Union of Electricity Employees, Bamidele Kogbe, noted that several meetings held with the management in 14 states did not yield results as they only promised without fulfilling.

Not allowing the staff to unionise and non-payment of the severance allowance has resulted in many deaths of their members.

The union leaders noted that if the one week picketing did not yield positive result, they will have no option than to prevent customers from paying electricity bills.

Mark Says Senate Will Revisit Issue Of Minimum Wage

Senate president, David Mark, has promised Nigerian workers that the National Assembly will revisit the issue of the removal of labour and minimum wage from the exclusive list.

He made this known when workers from the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress marched to the National Assembly to protest the position of the Senate for the removal of labour from the exclusive list in the ongoing constitution review.

The two groups have stated that they will resist moves by the Senate to remove minimum wage and other labour matters from the exclusive legislative list because such a move is not in the interest of workers and ordinary people.

In August, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar had threatened that the union would embark on a nationwide strike and mobilise Nigerian workers to fight against the removal of the minimum wage clause from the exclusive list of the proposed amendment to the 199 constitution by the leadership of the National Assembly.

The National Executive Committee meeting of the Congress insisted that the placement of minimum wage on the concurrent list will further impoverish Nigerian workers.

Recently, the National Chairman of the Labour party, Mr Dan Nwanyanwu said that Nigeria cannot achieve its dream of becoming one of the 20 leading economies in the world by year 2020, if the labour sector is not given federal protection.

The Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomole, while addressing workers, stated that the consequences of removing labour from the exclusive list goes beyond wages explaining that if the senate removes labour from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, every state would withdraw basic protection for workers such as health and safety and social security.

Union Homes Staff Shut Lagos Office

The office of Union Homes in Lagos is under lock and key. Union homes is one of Nigeria’s financial and Mortgage Institutions but their staff have taken to the street in protest.

They are complaining of several ill treatment from their employers such which include, no payment of entitlements and indiscriminate sack of over 300 members of staff.

According to the Union leader, Sola Tokede,  the company has been sacking people without paying them, stating that they are re-organising the banking institution.

He said the staff strength which used to be about 700, went lean with the sack of 300, with 100 staff  again told to resign while the reamining staff were left to continue work.

 

Labour Suspends Protests in Plateau Due To Emergency Rule In Some Local Councils

After consultations, the leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), and the Plateau State Police Command have agreed to suspend the proposed public demonstration against fuel subsidy removal scheduled for Monday.

NLC

During a meeting between security chiefs and labour leaders, the state’s police commissioner, Mister Dipo Ayeni stressed the importance of maintaining peace in the state by avoiding any situation that will aggravate an already tense atmosphere as a result of the state of emergency declared in some local government areas .

The labour and trade union congress and civil society coalition in the state have asked members of the public to embark on a sit at home strike action starting from Monday January the 9th and to disregard any contrary information.

There was a hitherto disagreement between the parties as to whether the protests should take place or not. A showdown was expected as a result of the disagreement but that has been put to bed with the recent agreement.

Both the police and Special Task Force had warned against any rally in Jos, the organised labour had said it was poised to go ahead with the protest.

The state chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association had said it would lead other unions in Jos in the protest.

Chairman of the state NBA, Mr. Tom Kekemeke, in a press conference on Friday, said the chapter would not only obey the directive of the national body, it would also lead labour unions in the state on a peaceful protest.

Kekemeke said, “The NBA Jos has agreed to boycott courts as from Monday and we will remain like that until Mr. President returns the price of petrol to status quo.”

Also, State chairman of the NLC Mr. Jibrin Bamcir, said, “I went to Abuja to attend the National Executive Council Meeting and I am back at home to mobilise my people for the strike, I will ensure Plateau is not left out of the nationwide struggle to liberate our people.”