Coronavirus: FG strategy of self-quarantine is counter-productive ― NLC

• Issues advisory to workers, governments, employers

With the rising cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Thursday, condemned the strategy adopted by the Nigerian Government in its response to the pandemic, saying that the advice to “self-quarantine” is counter-productive given the socio-economic realities in Nigeria.

The congress gave this position when he addressed a press conference on: “CoronaVirus (Covid-19): The Way Forward,” even as it issued an advisory to the workers, governments and employers, on how to respond positively to the pandemic in the workplace.

The President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the leadership of the congress deemed it very necessary “to brief Nigerian workers on our own strategy – the worker-based strategy – which is complementary to the national strategy.”

According to him, a worker-based strategy is necessary given that workers are at frontline risk given their exposure at points of entry or departure, or hospitals or any other place of interest.

“In the face of Covid-19, workers are also exposed to secondary risks such as threats of loss of jobs or actual job losses,” Wabba said.

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The NLC President said: “A worker-based response is also essential given that in times of national or international emergencies, sectoral or organizational responses are usually helpful in minimising impact and finding sustainable solutions.

“In furtherance of this, the congress has decided to issue this as an advisory to workers, governments and private employers of labour, both formal and informal, across the country. The advisory focuses on creating awareness of the workplace issues on Covid-19, fashioning a support base, designing negotiation strategy that safeguards workers, as well as ensuring that our workplaces are healthy and safe.”

With about 12 confirmed cases in Nigeria, he pointed out that there was a strong probability that many more cases may be discovered soon which may lead to large scale services withdrawal.

Wabba stated that in more developed climes, people are working from home in order to mitigate further spread; and strongly advised that in our workplaces where this can be done, workers should be encouraged to work from home.

He added, however, that in such cases, workers’ emoluments should not suffer.

He emphasised that the actions of government would be critical in containing coronavirus and, therefore, urged government at all levels to strengthen emergency response mechanism, while states should set up disease surveillance activities.

On the self-quarantine advice of the Federal Government, he said: “Persons arriving Nigeria from countries with up to 1000 Covid-19 cases should be quarantined in suitable healthcare facilities. The advice to self-quarantine is counter-productive given the socio-economic realities in Nigeria. Contact tracing of positive cases should be stepped up. Health givers should be resourced with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), face masks, gloves, and hand sanitisers.

“Timely dissemination of relevant information is critical in the war against Covid-19. On our part, we are ready to work with employers and governments to ensure that workers get the needed support, and employers a fair deal in these trying times. We should see the Covid-19 pandemic as a challenge to revamp and reposition our healthcare facilities and system.”

For the workers, employers both in the private, public, formal and informal sector, he said the congress would adopt and recommend the hygiene measures by WHO, and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Wabba said: “We encourage workers to wash their hands frequently with soap under a running water source for at least twenty seconds. We should also desist from putting our fingers in our nostrils or wiping our eyes or mouths with bare hands. Workers should maintain reasonable person to person distancing at work. For now, we should avoid handshakes or hug.

“Upon discovering any of the Covid-19 symptoms, we are advised to report to the closest clinic. It should, however, be noted that a confirmed case is not a death sentence given the recovery record in the country.

“Employers are duty-bound to provide facilities for dispensing running water as well as hand sanitisers at workplaces within the reach of workers. Employers should maintain well-ventilated and routinely sanitised workspaces as well as take other measures for preventing and containing the spread of Covid-19. They should also put in place processes and mechanisms for continual worker education on the virus.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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