The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has advised union leaders to pursue an act of parliament that will protect workers against uncertainties in the event of collapse of organisation.
Sirika gave the advice at a one-day union retreat organised by the Joint Union Negotiating Council (JUNC), Federal Ministry of Transportation, in Abuja, with the theme: “Dynamic Labour Leader: An Asset to Organisational Growth.”
The minister, who was represented at the occasion by Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Akin Olateru, urged the union leaders to lobby the National Assembly to come up with an enabling act that would protect workers against uncertainties in their establishments.
He stressed the need for leadership of organised labour to develop strategy that could secure the future of Nigerian workers through Act of parliament.
He also urged the unions to continue to work together in unity towards fighting a common cause and their welfare.
He added that unions should go beyond mere negotiations and asking for salary increase to secure the future of their members in the work place.
The minister said that when the defunct Nigerian Airways was liquidated, the airlines’ staff in UK got their full entitlements, while those in Nigeria could not because of lack of strong laws that protect workers.
According to him, it is good to fight for money but it is better to look inward towards solving problems and developing workers’ skills.
“The unions should come together in fighting for the same course and look at how to solve this constant problem.
“Today, a company goes down; an employee is left high and dry. Yesterday was NITEL, yesterday was Nigerian Airways but do you know who is next?
“So, something fundamental has to be done to prevent such things from reoccurring. Unions need to come together and lobby National Assembly to come up with the right enabling act that will protect workers in the event of collapse of any company. It is a common thing in Nigeria because company comes, company goes, and employers are just there,’’ he said.
Sirika said that the contributions of trade union to the growth of every organisation was very important, saying that the outcome of the retreat would serve as springboard to addressing labour matters in the industry.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, said that unions are partners and key players in the decision-making process of both government and corporate bodies.
Zakari said that the workable and realistic working relationship with the unions in the ministry had yielded desired results, urging them to sustain and consolidate on the success.
According to him, management will always work closely with the unions with the objective of sustaining the existing harmonious industrial atmosphere in the ministry.
The Co-Joint Council Chairman of JUNC, Mr. Hector Nnadi, said that the challenge of the labour unions in the country was the absence of proactive and dynamic labour leaders.
Nnadi said the essence of the retreat was to do an appraisal of their activities in 2017, know where they were and produce a communiqué that would be useful to their progress.
He said that if the Federal Government could give bail out to state governments, it should also consider the federal workers with the same bail out to uplift them from adverse economic situations.
“What we are actually asking the Federal Government is that if it can give states ball out, why can’t they bail out federal workers.
“We are requesting that our dear President should bail us out because most of his policies are workers friendly.
“Let him bail us out because we are dying because the inflation rate is seriously affecting us.
“If you look at cost of accommodation in Abuja and the surrounding economic realities, you will agree with me that federal workers need bail out,’’ he said.
Nnadi commended the consistent support and cooperation of the management of the ministry in meeting the yearnings and aspirations of staff, adding that it had led to cordial relationship with the unions.