“Blessed are the hands that work, there is dignity in labour, we are proud to be builders of the land”.
The above is one of the songs regularly sung by Nigerian workers every May 1 which is always the occasion of the Workers day. Yes, the words in the song are as powerful and true today as they were when the song was composed many years ago. Even the Holy books of the two major religions practiced in Nigeria do not condone laziness.
Not only do these religions frown at laziness, they also emphasised the fact that workers and labourers must be recompensed accordingly for the work they do. The Bible says and I quote “ensure the sweat of the labourers on your field do not dry before you pay them”.
Unfortunately, that is not what obtains in Nigeria. Workers both in the formal and informal sectors have been turned into glorified beggars. These people go to work daily to exact their energies but come back home with pittance that cannot even buy three square meals. And this is happening in a nation where the politicians and the elites loot the nation daily.
Virtually everyday we wake up to the news of monies stolen by a few individuals at the expense of the masses. As of today, 31 out of the 36 states of the federation owe their workers at least 5months salaries. That is the unfortunate reality in Nigeria. Not only the workers are unhappy, even God is unhappy because this is a clear contradiction of His injunction.
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But all hopes are not lost, the government at Federal and State levels can still have a rethink and do what is right by their workers. The following are the steps that can be taken to make lives better for their workforce:
1) As a matter of urgency, government should begin payment of all the arrears owed their workers.
2) All the outstanding promotions that have been denied workers be implemented and be made to have retrospective financial implications.
3) All ghost workers should be fished out and expunged from the system. This will fight corruption and also open doors for unemployed people to get jobs.
4) The labour unions should be allowed to operate without the evil interference of government and politicians.
5) Workers in the private sector should be allowed to unionise freely or join existing public sector unions.
It is hoped that government will listen and implement these guidelines. It is my sincere prayer for all Nigerian workers that as you have laboured, you all will receive your entitlements while you are still alive.
May God bless you all, and May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Happy Workers Day