Labour movement at the lowest ebb

TODAY, not a few Nigerians are nostalgic about the good old days when the labour movement in the country was strong and vibrant and represented not only the interest of workers but also that of ordinary Nigerians. That was when the movement participated actively in shaping the political and socioeconomic trajectories of the country via effervescent but patently altruistic socioeconomic activism. Not even the persecution in the of the dark days of the military era was able to cow Labour: the movement in liaison with the civil society organisations, and in particular the Fourth Estate of the Realm, effectively represented the major voice of dissent to the unelected officials and their draconian decrees.

But that was then; the labour movement has been delegitimised in the country and has become a shadow of its old self. It has lost the confidence of the government and, more importantly, the people. Nobody takes the movement seriously anymore, especially when it comes up with the impotent and usual refrain of ‘we won’t accept’ following official policies and proposals. Labour has largely become a laughing stock. While this sordid state of affairs has persisted for a while, it is believed to have reached its zenith under the present leadership.  Division arising from selfish and sectional interests is considered as the bane of the unity of labour and by implication one of the causes of its lacklustre performance in terms of workers and ordinary Nigerians’ expectations.

For instance, the current leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) under Ayuba Wabba is said to be suffering from a legitimacy problem because it emerged from the public sector when it was the turn of the private sector to produce the leadership of the organisation. The alleged disruption of the succession plan reportedly led to the exacerbation of the fissures in the NLC, which hampered its ability to deliver on its mandate. Another veritable issue dampening the vibrancy of labour is the official interference in its affairs. The owners of capital would do anything to impair the unity of labour; so does the government. It is common knowledge that the government sometimes influences rifts in labour organisations and also endorses and provides support for some candidates aspiring to leadership positions at the expense of other members. It therefore becomes difficult for the leadership that emerges with its support not to be beholden to it. That is why the government hardly consults with Labour before coming out with policies that impact workers and ordinary Nigerians directly because it does not expect any stern resistance from it, having pocketed its leadership as it were.

And unsurprisingly, oftentimes the movement’s feeble reactions to anti-people policies are usually in tandem with the official expectations. These days, it is customary to see labour leaders putting up a show of resistance to harsh policies, threatening fire and brimstone, but at the end of the day, this is mere posturing devoid of any potent interrogation or confrontation.  Given this kind of deplorable background, Labour cannot be expected to effectively find its voice even amidst government’s endless punitive policies. For instance, in September, there was a hike in electricity tariff and Labour told Nigerians to prepare for a strike. It even vowed that in the unlikely event that the government reversed the tariff, the protest would still go on to address other salient grievances. But the government only put the increased tariff on hold for two weeks to allow for further dialogue and by midnight, Labour had suspended the strike that would have attracted many protesters because of the palpable privations in the land.

There is a sense in  which the betrayal by Labour could be adduced as part of the reasons for the #EndSARS protests and their unintended consequences such as the carnage that ensued after the peaceful protest was hijacked by hoodlums. It would appear that the youths decided to take their destinies in their own hands because the organised labour had more or less chosen to be receptive to inconsiderate official policies instead of putting the government on its toes. It is axiomatic that Labour is currently at its lowest ebb and risks being consigned to the oblivion if it does not retrace its steps to swiftly combat the challenges, both internal and external, that are impeding its vibrancy. In a clime like Nigeria where partisan politics is largely  limited to contestation for power, but where amity is easily achieved across party lines when it comes to plundering the collective patrimony as spoils of office, Labour must necessarily stand up to be counted as a veritable opposition.

The labour movement should address the intractable issue of division in its fold. It must ensure that its leadership recruitment process throws up committed and dedicated leaders who are prepared to render selfless service, not the type that will gravitate towards those who are in charge of the Pot of Porridge at the slightest of opportunity.

YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

Weekly Review: Nigeria’s COVID-19 Infections On The Rise Again

Nigeria’s new COVID-19 infections increased again last week, Tribune Online analysis shows.

Last week, the 46th week of the pandemic in Nigeria, the country recorded 1,206 new infections (November 8 – 14), an increase when compared to the 923 cases recorded the previous week…

We Have Not Decided Yet To Call Off Strike — ASUU President

t is still uncertain whether the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will end soon as President of the union, Professor ‘Biodun Ogunyemi said there were certain steps to be taken to reach that final conclusion on the issue…

[ICYMI] Judicial Panel: I’m Unaware Nigerian Army Called Lekki Shooting ‘Fake News’ On Twitter – General

Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Taiwo, Commander of the 81 Division, Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island has said that he was unaware that the Nigerian Army Headquarters had described the shootings at the Lekki Tollgate as “fake news” on Twitter…

USElection2020: Is It Trump Or Biden?

THE United States election between Republican and current President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden takes place today, November 3rd and is on course to witness the highest turnout in a century with more than 95 million people already cast their ballots in early voting.

International Criminal Court Begins Probe Into Shooting Of #EndSARS Protesters In Nigeria

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has disclosed that it’s conducting a preliminary investigation into the recent #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Wednesday.

 

You might also like
Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More