From: Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
Organized labour has called for a new macroeconomic policies and industrial relations paradigm for African economies to mitigate the impact of Covid:19 pandemic on employment and poverty .
Comrade Issa Aremu Africa’s Vice President, Industrial Global Union, made this submission while speaking during a 3- hour ZOOM Webinar conference on the “Impact of Management of COVID: 19 on Nigerian workers” organized by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) yesterday
The frontline labour leader observed that the generalized and indiscriminate negative impact of COVID: 19 on businesses and labour calls for what he called “new solidarity and cooperative industrial relations” as opposed to the present adversary relations.
Comrade Aremu who noted that there was significant solidarity between Governments, employers and labour to save lives during the outbreak of the pandemic in March, however lamented that with gradual easing, there has been a slide into what he called the old vested interest selfish/ class approach to economic recovery.
According to him the challenge of Management of COVID: 19 lies in the preservation of lives, businesses and sustainable jobs. He decried what he called undue “empathy and publicity” which often trails high profile cases of COVID: 19; adding that thousands of frontline health , medical workers and ordinary victims are also victims deserving of support and understanding.
Aremu therefore called on the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to “unveil the humans behind the numbers” for inclusive responses through full discourse of profile and statuses. He called on employers and labour to intensify education on occupational hygiene health and safety as prevention against the spread of the virus.
The labour leader hailed Nigeria’s government N2.3 trillion stimulus plan and various monetary and fiscal measures. He however called on businesses, state governments and private employers to initiate complimentary strategy to protect existing jobs and create opportunities for new Decent jobs ones.
“The take away from COVID: 19 is the urgent need for new win-win solidarity work relations as distinct from the past zero- sum work relations in which only the smartest survives. Nobody is too smart for COVID: 19, only collective solidarity care can protect employers and workers alike ” he said.
He observed that while mass public works are desirable, only the industry and manufacturing sector can generate sustainable jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. He therefore called for a collaboration between Trade unions and governments to intensify the campaigns for sustainable industrial policies for the continent to mitigate the negative impact of Covid: 19 on jobs and investment.
Comrade Aremu commended the launch of 614-km long Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline natural gas pipelines by President Muhammadu Buhari adding that it has the potential to create petrochemical industries, power generation plants and millions of downstream jobs for Nigerian youths.
In his opening remark, the Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) Professor Suleiman Abubakar disclosed that with the outbreak of COVID:19, the Institute had initiated a comprehensive review of the 9th assembly Legislative Agenda that is inclusive of Labour and Employment concerns.