Aremu urges organised labour to support President-elect

Mr Issa Aremu

Mr Issa Aremu, the Director General, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, has advised the organised labour to forge a sustainable partnership on “decent work agenda for national development” with the in-coming administration of the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu.

Aremu gave the advice on Tuesday in Ilorin while declaring open a two-day induction of industrial relations training programme for the newly elected executive members of the newly formed Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA).

The workshop was themed: “Building Harmonious Labour Management Relationship As a Tool for University Education Stability and National Development”.

It was jointly organised by the institute and the office of the Registrar of Trade Unions for the newly elected officials of the CONUA drawn from various universities in the country.

The director general observed that the inclusive nature of universities with diverse academic staff, non-academic mass of workers and university administrators make work relations “all comers affairs” with respect to inevitable grievances and grievance handling process.

He however said union officials in academic institutions required specialised knowledge and wisdom about industrial relations through training and retraining on offer at MINILS to manage the challenges arising from the dynamic world of work.

The director-general commended the two ministers of labour for facilitating the capacity building for the CONUA officials.

He observed that the incessant disputes in universities are reflections of deep knowledge gap on the part of all stakeholders about collective bargaining process, mediation, arbitration, social dialogue and legal framework guiding industrial relations management.

“In today’s world of work, direction has shifted from the traditional methods of organising, mobilising and collective bargaining to a more constructive, social dialogue, cooperative partnership and collaboration.

“This is through social democratic unionism in conformity with best practices. The university management and union leaders must be articulate and embrace the modern industrial relation skills in organising, mobilising, bargaining and management in general.

“The inauguration of the new administration of President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, offered a new opportunity for unions, governments and employers to rethink and deepen Nigeria/ILO Decent work agenda,” he said.

Aremu said Tinubu value labour as a critical success partner in his commendable renewed hope agenda through mass youth employment programmes and end to avoidable strikes in universities through social dialogue.

According to him, the record of labour administration of the President-elect as former two-term governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007, and campaign programme of APC positioned him “as the possible best labour-friendly President” in waiting.

He explained that Tinubu was the first presidential candidate to engage both NLC and TUC members on critical market issues with promises of social dialogue as means for resolving inevitable disputes in the world of work.

Aremu described Tinubun and his Vice President-elect as “ tested and trusted democratic state and non-state icons” who would consolidate on some of the pro-labour legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He observed that the new administration would engage the organised labour on all outstanding issues of the living wage, gender equity, pension, labour motivation, productivity, social protection and dispute resolutions.

“Lagos state under Tinubu and subsequent governors have been known to be at the vanguard of improving workers’ welfare, and not only implemented all the minimum wages passed in the last 20 years but have not been known to have defaulted in salary payment to its workers, despite the withheld Local Government Fund,” he said.

The director-general said the state still prioritized payment of salary for its workers, including local government employees, and has successfully implemented the contributory pension scheme to ensure healthy retirement and guarantee regular payment of pension to workers in future.

Aremu said: “While many states are yet to sign on to compulsory Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), Lagos since 2007 has paid as much as N150 billion to almost 30,000 retirees.

“The President-elect remains the best labour-friendly that would guarantee decent work”.

Mr Niyi Sunmonu, the CONUA President, commended the director general for the training, adding that it is expected that there will be uninterrupted academic session in the country.

He warned that time lost in frequent industrial actions cannot be regained, adding that other means of achieving their goals and aspirations would be explored. (NAN)

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