The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) saved at least 800 jobs during the coronavirus lockdowns in Nigeria, Labour leader Ayuba Wabba has said.
“Many employers of labour have latched on this economic slow-down to vent their venom on poor workers with many workplaces effecting massive layoffs, retrenchment and retirement,” The NLC told journalists at the 2020 World Decent Work Day on Wednesday.
“We would recall upon the first phase of the easing of the lockdown, a bank fired 800 of its staff.
“The bank was only testing the waters as other banks were already primed to follow suit. It took the intervention of the Nigeria Labour Congress to halt the anti-workers purge.
“Through the instrumentality of the Labour Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 which we set up both at the national level and in all our state councils, Congress wrote strongly worded letters to the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria and other regulatory agencies warning of the dire consequences of offering workers as the sacrificial lamb during the pandemic.
“We wondered what happened to the surplus profits realised from the toil and sweat of workers when the going was good.
“We also reached out to the employers in the private sector through the auspices of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association.
“The fruit of that strategic engagement was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for Job Protection.
“It is gratifying that the Federal Government and the regulatory agencies listened to the voice of reason and halted the move to bleed the workforce in Nigeria of thousands of jobs.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) placed an embargo on the termination of employment in our banking sector.
“In order to create an enabling environment for businesses to recover and become resilient post-COVID-19 lockdown phase and in response to the demand of Organized Labour in Nigeria, the House of Representatives put together an Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill 2020, which seeks to protect the employment status of Nigerians by providing tax breaks to employers who do not lay off employees during the prevalence of the novel corona disease in Nigeria,” Wabba said.