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Lamentations as workers celebrate May Day

By Saheed Ibrahim & Boluwatife Akinola

Lamentations and complaints galore have greeted today’s commemoration of the International Labour Day, popularly known as Workers’ Day, as Nigerian workers bemoaned high cost of goods, transportation, which they said have turned their salaries into empty papers.

Highlighting the dire effects of the current economic downturn and hardship on the living conditions of workers, they called on employers to prioritize employees’ welfare.

Stakeholders emphasised the need for collective action to address issues affecting workers’ improved working conditions, mental, and physical health.

Speaking with The Hope, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Ondo State, Comrade Clement Fatuase, characterized the current plight of Nigerian workers as a period of severe hardship.

He said the struggles faced by Nigerian workers include high costs of living, such as food, housing, and transportation, which have rendered their salaries grossly insufficient.

Fatuase expressed his concern that these economic pressures are making it difficult for workers to make ends meet, noting that it is a hardship with an indefinite solution.

Highlighting the major contributions of workers to the nation’s economy, he lamented the lack of appreciation and recognition for workers and the absence of reward mechanisms to motivate workers and create a sense of belonging and conducive working environments.

“In Nigeria, workers are not being appreciated by the employers; there is no reward mechanism that will reward the workers to have a sense of belonging and to also have a good environment where they work,” he added.

Fatuase also criticized employers who prioritize their own interests over the well-being of their workers, describing them as greedy, selfish, and irresponsible.

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The TUC Chairman noted that such attitudes undermine employee morale and hinder productivity, as workers may feel undervalued and demotivated.

The TUC Chairman called for greater respect and fairness towards Nigerian workers, stressing the importance of recognizing their contributions and providing conducive working conditions.

In the same vein, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Chairman in the State, Comrade Victor Amoko, emphasised the need for collaboration between workers, government, and citizens to address challenges workers face.

He acknowledged that economic difficulties existed before the current administration and urged for a holistic approach to tackling these issues.

“We the workers, we have agreed to restructure the country together and if the government brings in some policies, those policies, how do they affect the citizens.

“Economic hardship, even though before Tinubu came on board, we have been experiencing it, not that the present president brought it to Nigeria; the removal of fuel subsidy is not the only problem we have in Nigeria, it’s just that many things were attached to it, many people have been cringing under that to deceive us,” he added.

Amoko stressed the importance of collective action in finding solutions to Nigeria’s challenges and emphasized that workers should not solely rely on politicians and the government but should actively participate in shaping policies that affect them, such as the minimum wage.

On corruption, he called for accountability among both government officials and workers and stressed the need for a concerted effort to root out corrupt practices that hinder progress and exacerbate economic hardships.

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Amoko urged all stakeholders to work together towards a better Nigeria. He emphasized the importance of integrity in all sectors and encouraged workers to contribute positively to the country’s development.

“My words for workers as we celebrate another Workers’ Day this year are to think of people first as implied by this year’s celebration’s theme.

“The government should think of the citizens and their workers; market women should think about their customers first. This way, the country will be okay, and everyone should do their work diligently,” the NLC Chairman said.

Speaking on the theme of this year’s commemoration, “Ensuring Health and Safety at Work,” a Psychologist, Aisha Bubah, stressed the need for the government and private employers to prioritize employees’ mental and physical well-being, including the provision of mental health services into healthcare packages offered to employees and their families.

The founder of Sunshine Series/Idimma also called for the provision of a safe and detoxified working environment devoid of discrimination for employees.

Similarly, a public health professional, Tola Oshonowo, said that workers face a lot of hazards despite being the pillars of sustainable development.

“In every labour organization of every country, workers are the pillars of sustainers and growth of such country’s economy. They play essential roles to maintain growth and also to protect the interest of the government towards achieving sustainable aims.

“Therefore, a good government must satisfy its workers with a high standard of living, pet insurances, provision of adequate amenities, and ensure that salaries that can stand the test of their daily challenges and needs are made available for them.

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“With their tremendous contribution to the economy, growth of the country, workers deserve to be specially treated with quick and immediate attention from the government,” the Ondo Branch Secretary of the Nigerian Red Cross Society said.

Lamentations as workers celebrate May Day

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