Brief History of The Nigeria Labour Congress
The NIGERIA Labour Congress was founded in 1978. It consists of four unions merged together. They are Nigeria Trade Union Congress, Labour Unity Front, United Labour Congress and Nigeria Workers Council.
The NYC has a total of 42 individual unions. It’s motto is “Labour creates wealth”. Currently, Comrade Ayuba Wabba is its current national president.
The major objective of the NLC is to protect, defend and promote the rights, well-being and interests of all workers, pensioners and trade unions. Furthermore, the NLC aims to:
1. To continually promote, defend and advance the economic, political and social well-being of Nigerian workers.
2. To promote and defend the rights, well-being and interests of workers in the work-place and society.
3. To promote and defend the rights, well-being and interest of pensioners and ensure their recognition by the Society.
4. To continually enhance the quality of life and improve the income and other working conditions of workers.
5. To promote and sustain the unity of Nigerian trade unions, ensure total unionization of all workers irrespective of their creed, state of origin, gender and their political beliefs.
6. To ensure the existence of one trade union and one federation of trade unions in every industry.
7. To promote and defend trade union and human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance.
8. To promote and defend democracy; probity and transparency in the trade unions and in civil governance.
9. To work for the industrialization and prosperity of the Nigerian nation and ensure protection of jobs, full employment and humane working environment.
10. To continually strive to influence public corporate policies and legislation on all issues at all levels, in the interest of workers, disadvantaged social groups and trade unions.
11. To establish relationship and co-operation with labour movements the world over.
12. To play a cardinal role in African Trade Union Movement OATUU and the sub-region OTUWA.
13 .To continually promote workers education, principally for developing their trade union and social consciousness and for the empowerment of workers in the Nigerian society.
14. To promote and sustain positive industrial relations practice in Nigeria, by strengthening collective bargaining in all sectors of the economy and internalizing appropriate work culture among workers.
15. To ensure viable financial base for the congress and the trade unions by engaging in profitable business ventures, etc., jointly or severally owned with other establishments and these include right to own property, mortgage and disposal of same for the purpose of the attainment of the aims and objectives of the Congress and the trade unions.
Ten Problems of the NLC
The NLC has achieved a lot in the last 40 years which include it being a rallying point for Nigerians who feel oppressed by the government and engaging the Nigerian government in a series of battles to ensure that the workers rights are well protected and defended.
Despite these achievements, the NLC has being facing a lot of challenges over the years. For the purpose of this post, we will explain ten problems of the NLC and possible solutions:
1. Dissolution of the NLC Leadership by the Various Nigerian Governments
The NLC gas leadership has survived the dissolution of its leadership hierarchy on two occasions. The first occasion was on February 1988, when it was dissolved by the head of the federal Military government, General Ibrahim Babangida.This dissolution lasted ten months. During this period, the NLC was placed under the control of a sole administrator.
The second attempt was in1994.At that time, General Danni Abacha was the head of the federal Military government. He dissolved the NLC for four years and placed it under the control of a sole administrator. These instances of dissolution were achieved by using executive fiat and draconian laws.
2. Harassment by the Nigerian Government
The Nigerian government had on several occasions harassed the NLC leadership .It had on several occasions used The state security agents to disrupt NLC meetings, congresses and seminars.
It had also deployed security men to disperse the NLC officials from pressing home their demands during peaceful protests. Most of the time, the NLC officials are arrested and detained unlawfully.
3. The Use of Draconian Rules to Checkmate the Activities of the NLC
The government uses draconian rules to Checkmate the NLC leadership and its affiliates. These laws are used to ban some of its leaders from holding leadership positions. The laws also empower the government to embark on vicious anti-Labour campaigns against the NLC.
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An example to explain this will suffice: Recently, the NLC organised elections to determine those who will be its next elected executives to hold leadership positions. Comrade Ajaero and Comrade Ayuba Wabba both contested for the post if the president.
Comrade Wabba won the election but Comrade Ajaero lost. The results did not go done well with him. He rejected the election results, Consequently, Comrade Ajaero teamed up with Comrade Achese and formed a overall Labour Congress called the United Labour Congress. This further divided the NLC and weakened it from performing its functions effectively.
Corruption is a big stumbling block to the goals and aspirations the NLC.Nigerian government detest the NLC from its insistence on doing things properly and fighting for the rights of Nigerians.
Hence, the government bribes the NLC leaders with Brown envelopes. Consequently, the NLC leadership is compromised. This done to buy some of the leaders over to the government side to keep the congress quite.
This ensures that the NLC cannot fight the government in unity. The compromised leaders can no longer fight the government for its obnoxious economic policies.
6. Lack of Funds
Every organisation needs funds to carry out its functions effectively. The NLC is not an exception. Often, it is confronted with the problem of paucity of funds.
Often times because of paucity of funds, the NLC leaders are predisposed to being influenced by those who are not part of the employees. When this happens, their integrity is compromised. The interest of the workers they sought to protect becomes threatened.
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7. Lack of Internal Democracy
Like every other organization, the NLC also faces the problem of entrench internal democracy. This is because there is a bitter struggle for power and supremacy in the congress. Power play and supremacy battle causes conflict which leads to ‘factionalization’ within the congress.
8. NLC Leaders Lack the Required Skills to Perform their Responsibilities
Most Labour leaders lack the required leadership skills to perform their functions effectively. Labour leaders are not properly trained to manage labour crises.
Most of them have poor bargaining and negotiating skills. These deficiencies also place the workers at a disadvantage. Workers are therefore treated as slaves because they do not have leaders who can negotiate on their behalf.
Labour leaders could be abducted, kidnapped and killed by insurgents, kidnappers, armed bandits for ransom, money and political reasons. When this happens, labour leaders could be injured, killed or disposed of their valuables. This happens when labour leaders travel on roads to lead demonstrations and rallies.
10. Poor Remuneration
Labour leaders are poorly paid. There are no special perks associated with leadership positions in the NLC.Most organzsations they work for pay them poorly. Inn some instances, they are not even paid at all.
1. The NLC should develop polices that would strengthen the leadership skills and competencies of all levels of leadership in the NLC.
2. The NLC leadership must review its constitution with the aim of restructuring its secretariat to internal use democratic practices.
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3. The labour leaders must ensure that it reinvents the structures of the NLC and ensure that they are efficient and positioned to competently service the needs of unions and workers.
4. The NLC must ensure that it elects people of integrity, honesty and innovation to elective positions in the congress secretariat.
5. The labour leadership must restructure the congress to make it more formidable in its fight against workers’ abuse.
6. The NLC must formulate policies that will hold labour leaders accountable and honourable at all
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