President Muhammadu Buhari has appreciated Nigerian workers for their conduct notwithstanding the difficulties occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
Buhari sent his message of appreciation to the workers through a Zoom meeting of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, extended his good wishes and solidarity to the workers as they marked the May Day celebration.
“The President has shown his appreciation to you for the way you have conducted yourselves in spite of the deleterious effects of this COVID-19 situation. He has extended his gratitude to Nigerian workers for the way you have fought this coronavirus,” Ngige said in a press statement by his media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu.
The Labour Minister allayed fears of possible job losses as a result of COVID-19, saying government and social partners would look at the four-pillar policy responses laid out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) “which are human-centred and built on global solidarity.”
To ensure economic sustainability post COVID-19, Ngige told the workers that the Federal Government was developing a comprehensive Economic Sustainability Plan.
“The plan is being developed by Economic Sustainability Committee led by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, and comprising the Minister of Finance, Industry, Budget and Planning, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor and others; and a committee set up by the President, comprising Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Communication and Digital Economy, Interior, Works and Housing, Health, Science and Technology, Labour and Employment and Education. We are saddled with the responsibility of producing a comprehensive policy for a Nigerian economy functioning with COVID-19,” Ngige said.
He said talks were ongoing between the Presidential Economic Sustainability Committee and employers on job protection and also creation post COVID-19.
He reiterated that employers would not be encouraged to disengage staff without prerequisite social dialogue and clearance from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Ngige reassured that all relevant factors to the nation’s workforce would be identified, analysed and solidified to ensure job retention and continued realisation of decent work agenda.
He also expressed government’s appreciation to health workers umbrella unions (JOHESU) and for medical doctors, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), for their professionalism and support at this time of global health crisis.
He said government has provided hazard allowances and life insurance for those who may lose their lives in the battle against COVID-19, as well as Employees Compensation for those who may lose suffer injuries and disabilities in the course of discharging their duties.
Ngige, however, called on employees in the science, technology and research sectors of the economy to put on their thinking caps and join their colleagues throughout the world to produce a cure and/or vaccine for the COVID-19.