Seeks dialogue before implementation
THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has charged the Federal Government to tread softly in the implementation of the Steve Oronsaye report, which has recommended mergers or outright scrapping of some government agencies and departments.
A statement by the NLC in Abuja yesterday said the recommendation that statutory commissions be reduced from 263 to 161 and that 38 agencies should be scrapped would ultimately lead to massive job loss.
The Abdulwaheed Omar-led NLC observed that the current situation would not have arisen if Labour was incorporated into the committee when it was set up.
It said: “At the inauguration of the committee, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had drawn the Presidency’s attention to the fact that the overwhelming number of workers who work in these organisations and those who may be affected by the outcome would be Congress members and that it was therefore necessary for the NLC to be represented in the committee.
“Apparently, the Federal Government was not persuaded by this. Now that the report is out and a government team to produce a white paper has been constituted, the NLC finds it imperative to raise the social and Labour issues that will result.”
It added: “It is necessary to first clarify that the NLC believes that the cost of governance needs to be reduced although we think this has to do mainly with government expenditure on political appointees and hangers on.
“We, however, believe that parastatals and agencies like the FRSC and EFCC, which have proven records of success should not be scrapped or merged. Secondly, where compelling reasons and facts are given, Congress will not necessarily oppose the merger or scrapping of certain agencies.”
The NLC, therefore, called on government to pay special attention to job loss, saying that an average of eight members of a family would bear the brunt of one worker thrown out of work.
“But since job losses may be inevitable in a few cases, Congress demands that special focus be placed on the social and labour implications. We know that each worker caters for a minimum of six persons and that each job loss may automatically translate to eight Nigerians being pushed further down the poverty line into hunger.
“Not only that, job losses will lead to social dislocation. Labour declares that the current precarious state of security could be exacerbated if the anticipated job losses is not carefully handled.” It added: “There are also security implications as a jobless and hungry citizen may become vulnerable to being enticed by enemies of the country. The NLC therefore demands that any redundancy that may be declared in the affected organisations should be in accordance with Labour laws and handled as such.
“This necessarily includes negotiations with the unions concerned or authentic representatives of the workers. But given the fact that this may cut across a number of parastatals and agencies, it is necessary that the central Labour unions in the country should be invited to negotiate with the Federal Government.”
Congress demanded to be invited for discussion before the release of a white paper on Oronsaye’s report and government’s subsequent action in order to avoid social and Labour-related crises.
The NLC, therefore, assured workers that it would not abandon them and that it would do the needful “to protect their interests, job security and family life.”