NLC backs FG’s lockdown extension, gradual ease of movement restriction
To resist likely salary cut
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday backed the Federal Government’s (FG) decision to extend the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) lockdown by an additional one week and gradual ease of movement restrictions.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his national broadcast on Monday night had ordered gradual ease of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while also imposing a 6 am to 8 pm curfew and mandatory use of face masks in public.
“…I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, 4th May, 2020,” Buhari stated in the broadcast.
Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President during an interview in Abuja, however, disclosed that the new position of the FG is in line with the union’s initial recommendations, having realised the effects of the initial 14 days lockdown on the masses and business operations.
“This is what labour has canvassed for. Everything we have asked for is gradually opening up, that lockdown cannot be perpetual,” Wabba said.
The new directive, he added, would reduce the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the populace, adding that the lockdown cannot also be abruptly lifted as it is in tandem with current global realities.
“…And also, lockdown cannot be abruptly opened up. Clearly speaking, it has met the observation of labour and some of the issues we have raised that we must find a balance between continuous lockdown and meeting the needs and livelihoods of many Nigerians,” Wabba argued further.
Nigeria recorded her first COVID-19 case on 25th February. The number has continued to increase with 1,337 confirmed cases, 40 deaths and 255 discharged persons as of 27th April.
In the latest discovery, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) put the current figure of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lagos at 34, 15 in the FCT, 11 in Borno, two (2) in Taraba and two (2) in Gombe states.
On possible reduction in workers’ salaries, the NLC said it would strongly stand against such act.
“The issue of workers pay and salaries is an issue under the exclusive domain of the tripartite of social dialogue and therefore, the unilateral approach to deduct workers salary is even and we will continue to resist that because those salaries are the product of law, production of engaging and collective bargaining process.
“So it is not expected that unilaterally somebody will just wake up and say I have deducted your salary because of this challenge. So clearly speaking, this is not the way to go. It will put more people into poverty,” Wabba said.
“We will have a pool of working poor, people are working yet they are poor and therefore it will compound our socio-economic situation and also compound the security and social challenges. The unions will be there to respond to such challenges in ways and manners that are allowed by our law and also using our time-tested mode of engagement.”