May Day: Lagos has enjoyed 4yrs of sustained industrial harmony ― Ambode

...lauds labour union for cooperation, support ...as workers express displeasure over Ambode, his deputy's absence

Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday joined thousands of workers in the state to commemorate the 2019 edition of the May Day celebration, commending labour unions for their understanding and cooperation in the last four years that ensured the state did not witness any industrial action.

Governor Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye, at the May Day Rally, held at the Agege Stadium, Lagos with the theme, “Another 100 Years of Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice in Nigeria,” attributed the industrial harmony and peace in the state to the maturity and cooperation of the labour unions, applauding them for adopting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms rather than resort to industrial actions.

This was just as the State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sessi Agnes Funmi, expressed the displeasure of the workers for the absence of the governor and his deputy, Dr. (Mrs.) Idiat Adebule, at the event which held at Agege Stadium without any excuse, contending that nothing could have called for such absence as it was the only day out of 365 days in the whole needed to felicitate with the workers.

The aggrieved workers of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) also stormed the venue carrying various placards, disrupted the proceeding for some molinited as they demanded the sack of their rector, Samuel Sogunro.

Governor Ambode said his administration since inception in May 2015 prioritised workers welfare and worked closely with union leaders to address policy and infrastructural issues, which he described as the bane of effectiveness and efficiency of workers in the state, expressing joy over the outcome.

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“Having devoted myself to these objectives for the past four years and, having worked with you all, I am glad to say that it has been a pleasure to be your partner on this journey. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and I am grateful for the cooperation and support that you have given me.

“Indeed, I am pleased that together, we have given the people of Lagos State four productive years of sustained industrial harmony. This is, perhaps, the longest period of such in the modern history of our state and this was made possible by the culture of mutual respect and understanding we nurtured and deployed.

“The culture of openness, mutual respect and frank discussions that marked our relationship with labour and the resulting period of industrial harmony allowed the government to initiate and implement programmes and policies that have resulted in immediate and long-lasting tangible values to the workers, the State government, and the good people of Lagos State,” he said.

Ambode said aside regular training and seminars that workers in the state were exposed to, the state government embarked on a successful campaign of reorientation in the public service to enable workers embrace the Growth Mindset in place of the hitherto limiting Fixed Mindset that pervaded the public service.

He also said that conscious efforts was also made by his administration to meet the pension obligations and reduce outstanding payments, while expanding programmes geared towards providing social safety nets to the aged and retired officers of the public service.

“Very importantly, our administration concluded the review of the State’s Pension Law by signing the amended Lagos State Pension Reform Law in the first quarter of Year 2019,” the governor said, noting this amendment, among others, increased the government’s pension contribution from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent.

According to him, this is a legacy that the state government is proud to bequeath to the hardworking officers of the Lagos State Public Service.

“This is a legacy that we are proud to bequeath to the hardworking officers of the Lagos State Public Service,” the governor said.

Noting that the theme of this year’s celebration was apt and projecting into the future ahead, Governor Ambode said he was confident that the labour union movement in Nigeria was marching forward with optimism and clear focus on the fundamental values and pillars of the labour movement.

“Indeed, the labour movement in Nigeria has come a long way and yet it remains on the right path, focusing on the values that are of utmost importance to the society and the economy.

“This theme is in line with the Federal Government’s focus on job creation, promoting entrepreneurship and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Jobs are important because they create further wealth and provide the purchasing power that enables the producers of wealth to continue to produce wealth and value.

“Dignity for workers is essential because it rewards those who diligently and laboriously apply themselves to the everyday work of creating value and earning a living with respect and social recognition. Finally, social justice is the only recipe for true peace and harmony in any society,” he said.

Speaking further, Governor Ambode enjoined all stakeholders to see the occasion as a time to rededicate to job creation, stable work place, equality of all workers, dignity in labour and social justice, adding that the society must begin to honour, respect, and reward labour and not wealth.

Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Lagos State Chapter, Comrade Francis Ogunremi, commended Governor Ambode in his remark for his commitment to workers welfare in the last four years especially in areas of prompt payment of salary, allowances and timely remittance of workers’ pensions, describing him as one of the most labour-friendly governors.

He also lauded the various initiatives of the Governor in key sectors including massive road projects, solving traffic challenges especially launching of Traffic Information System, repositioning of State Emergency Agency, scaling up security architecture of the State, construction of Safety Arena, Health Insurance Scheme, among others.

This was just as pointed at some areas that needed to be improved upon in pursuit of better welfare for workers and pensioners.

Also speaking, Lagos State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Agnes Funmi commended the governor for his excellent performance, saying the efforts made so far by him remained a challenge for other state governors to strive harder to achieve.

While lauding President Muhammadu Buhari for signing into law the new minimum wage, describing the gesture as a welcome gift, the labour leader, however, cautioned the Federal Government to completely drop the idea of increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) as a means of funding the 2019 budget.

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