By Michael Oche
The African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC-Africa has cautioned that attempts by the Nigerian government to weaken trade unions and diminish their influence are counterproductive and directly contravene internationally recognized labour rights and principles.
ITUC-Africa in a statement issued from its Lomé headquarters by its general secretary, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah said it has received reports from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that the government is planning to exert control over trade union organisations and their leadership through various means, including the potential use of coercive and deadly force by the Nigeria Police.
Our Correspondent reports that the NLC has recently decried harassment, including the arrest of some officials of the road transport workers union.
“we wish to underscore that this antagonistic approach towards trade unions undermines their essential role in advancing industrial harmony and productivity. It also contradicts the principles of democratic governance and social dialogue,” Kwasi Adu-Amankwah said in his statement.
He described as “tragic” the government’s deployment of a publicly funded institution against Nigerian workers resulted in the violent death of one worker, who was fatally shot by the police.
“We demand a thorough investigation, prosecution, and appropriate sanctions for the police personnel involved in this heinous crime to help combat impunity effectively,” he said.
The ITUC-Africa said it has learnt that this unwholesome tactic is exacerbated by the government’s misguided perception of trade unions as a political opposition entity due to the significant support garnered by the Labour Party in recent elections.
It therefore called on the Nigerian government to immediately cease these attacks and engage in constructive dialogue with the labour movement for the betterment of Nigerian workers’ rights and interests and those of the nation as a whole.
The statement reads further, “We remind the Nigerian government, especially in its capacity as the current Chair of the ILO Governing Body, of its obligation to uphold and respect its ratified ILO Conventions. The persistent disregard for these conventions is not only regrettable, but also tarnishes Nigeria’s international reputation as a champion of labor rights.
“ITUC-Africa calls upon Nigerian workers and their trade union organizations and the people to remain steadfast in their commitment to democracy. We urge them to continue to engage in the quest for a democracy that genuinely serves their interests and aspirations.”