By Lola Seriki- Idahosa
Organized labour has decried what it described as “gross violation of workers’ dignity” through dramatized “competence test” for workers and teachers particularly in the public schools.
A NEC Member of NLC Comrade Issa Aremu delivering a key note address at the 2017 National conference of the Committee for the Defence of Human rights (CDHR) in Kaduna at the weekend, called on state governors to “dignify their respective workforce through capacity building, understanding and sympathy as demanded by the principles of Decent Work by International Labour Organization (ILO)”. Comrade Aremu who is also the Vice President of Industriall global union and General Secretary of Textile Workers’ Union observed that the 1999 constitution guarantees basic human and workers’ rights. He however lamented that Nigerians’ constitutional rights were being implemented more “in the breach than compliance” sighting non-payment and delayed payments of what he called “miserable pay” by some state governors and private employers.
He said it was “unacceptable and counter productive” dramatizing and criminalizing workers’ skill gap when what was required was “skills upgrading and skills upliftment”. The labour leader observed that Section 34 (1) of 1999 constitution holds that every individual including working man and women is entitled to respect for the dignity of his/her person adding that exhibiting so-called failures of teachers or any worker during competence test violates their rights to privacy and dignity. “It is debatable if any of the states governors can truly pass competence/governance tests by Nigerians, but we all appreciate their weaknesses, we even re-elect some of them, only for them to degrade the workforce through punitive examinations not necessarily capacity building for improvement and promotion” the labour leaders said. According to him, Nigeria risks “perpetual underdevelopment if it refuses to treat its workforce better through training and training, better pay, work schedule and enforced discipline” adding that nations who holds labour as the most valued factor of production such as China and India are fast developing while Nigeria which alleges deride labour lags behind. The labour leader hailed President Muhammed Buhari for constantly tasking some recalcitrant governors on non-payment of salaries adding that “workers’ rights to living wage are human rights”.
Commending the activities of the President of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, Barrister Malachy Ugwummadu, the labour leader described CDHR as “ a strong African institution made of strong men and women who at the risks of persecutions by “military and civilian dictators” stood to defend, sustain and promote fundamental human rights of all Africans as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Comrade Aremu called on Federal legislators to strengthen the nation’s civil society, not weaken it adding that “only vibrant civil society groups could serve as a check on the political class over non-service delivery”For