By Marcus Ikechukwu
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), have said they would gladly trade their voting rights to any candidate or political party that would prioritize the welfare of workers in the country.
Part of other conditions outlined by the unions at their May Day festivities which held at the Eagle Square, Abuja on Sunday, is that their charter of demands must be met.
For the 2023 general elections, the organised labour specifically boosted that they have over 16 million bloc votes cutting across workers, pensioners and other circles of influence in the country.
They equally vowed to ensure Nigerians no longer suffer social injustices as a result of the action or inaction of governments, by proceeding to mobilise the citizenry against any poor performing government without waiting for elections to vote them out.
In a joint address read by President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba and President of the Trade Unon Congress (TUC) Quadri Olaleyi, listed the core labour issues still confronting Nigerian workers and the masses to include; the failure of some state governments to implement the national minimum wage especially Abia, Taraba, Cross River and Zamfara states.
Other core issues also listed were: abuse and humiliation meted out at pensioners; decent work deficits; violation of human, workers and trade union rights; and the consistent and unabating industrial crisis in the university system involving academic and non academic staff unions.
Labour said: “It must be our collective endeavour to put the Workers’ Charter of Demands at the front burner of 2023 politics. We can make this happen by mobilizing every Nigeria worker and pensioner to get their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) ready.
“We must be ready to engage political parties especially working class friendly parties and progressive political interests across the country to ensure that a significant number of candidates who would be for elective positions in 2023 subscribe to the provisions of our Charter.”
“Beyond engaging the politics of 2023 general elections, Nigerian workers just accept partisan politics as a fundamental way of life for the protection, survival and flourishing of the working class.”
“We will no longer wait for elections to mobilize Nigerians to take charge of the destiny of the destiny of their country. We will be more proactive and pronounced in the daily political undertakings of our country.”
“We will mobilize the Nigerian people to monitor and engage the performance of those we elect into political offices. We will match the performance metrics of the political class against Workers’ Charter of Demands. Their readings on our scale will determine the swing of the pendulum of workers’ ballot.”
“Pursuant to the foregoing, organised labour is energizing it’s structures down to the grassroots. We are facilitating the emergence of a progressive pro-Nigerian Workers’ political coalition.
“If your political party is truly progressive and worker friendly, you will be discussing with us. The over 16 million block votes of Nigerian workers, pensioners, our families and other circles of influence will go to political parties and candidates that assure us that the dreams of Nigerian workers and people would no longer be treated as governance addendum or as objects to be trampled under.”
The labour further noted that after series of serious discussions with progressive political parties and groups in the country, it has resolved to rescue Nigerians from the “grips of continuous misrule and bad governance,” through its political party, the Labour Party.
“Workers can no longer play the ostrich while a section of our professional political class play the roulette with the welfare of workers and the destiny of our country.”
“History will be very unkind to us if we continue to stay outside the rings of politics and trust that our placards and protests will change the iron clad determination of many of our politicians bent on looting, enslaving and leaving in their wake smokes of destitution and despondency. Given the scale of disappointing returns on governance and national development, we must now do the needful.”