Gloria Ikibah, Abuja
As President Muhammadu Buhari announced to ease the lockdown imposed in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, by the Federal Government, on May 4, 2020, on the account of the Covid-19 pandemic, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress has warned government at all levels not to stop or reduce salaries of Nigerian workers.
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba who who stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at a media briefing, said many health workers are currently on the frontline of duty rescuing the nation from the Covid-19 pandemic and so it would be unreasonable to cut workers pay at this time.
This came as a of the Commemoration of the 2020 International Concerns Workers Memorial Workers’ Day observed globally every April 28.
This year’s commemoration with the theme “Stop the Pandemic at Work”, came amidst the global fight against the novel corona virus disease.
“In reciprocation of the enormous sacrifice made by workers, we urge employers of labour to show solidarity with the sacrifice of our workers and people by ensuring wage protection, income support and social inclusion at these trying times. This is not the time to stop or deduct from workers’ salaries.
“Such an action would be both illogical and illegal as workers’ salaries are core elements of employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements. We have asked our affiliates and state councils to resist any salary deduction on the account of Covid-19”, NLC stated.
The Union also called on the privates sector to complement the efforts of government at providing Personal Protective Equipments PPE, and other social welfare buffers for their workers in this trying period of the virus.
“The contribution of frontline workers especially healthcare workers has become the only buffer between deaths in thousands and deaths in millions. Every day, our healthcare workers courageously dare the stare of death in selfless service to rescue the lives of others.
“On a day like this, we salute the uncommon love, faith, courage, and sacrifice by frontline workers who have given more than what the call of duty demands to give hope to humanity. We will forever remain indebted to thousands of our healthcare workers, transport workers, utility employees, journalists and even workers in the informal sector who have continued to show up at their duty posts despite the threat of death, dearth of working tools and paucity of gratitude.
“We condole with the families of workers who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the fight against Covid-19. We assure you that their labours will not be in vain. Their unquantifiable sacrifice will never be forgotten.
“Our health workers and other frontline workers are not on a suicide mission. They simply want to save lives. The least government and employers can do is to help them keep their lives so that they can go on saving other lives, Wabba said.
The NLC further commend the Federal government for the insurance cover and enhanced incentives provided for frontline health workers and urged states to follow suit.
At a time when many nations are grappling with how to contain the Covid-19, which has already taken a negative toll on world economies, prompting speculations that workers might become the worst victims either through mass sack or pay cut.
This year’s May Day celebration would be low key owing to the pandemic, Wabba advised government as part of smart measures to restart the economy, to intensify Covid-19 testing.