Former Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress( NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu, yesterday said that employers that do not pay salary are committing theft.
The ex-NLC boss who made the remark during World Decent Work Day in Kaduna noted that since the celebration of Decent Work Day is to promote global awareness against precarious work, every worker has the right to make such workplace ungovernable.
Aremu who is the Secretary- General of Textile Trade Union, added that worldwide, Nigeria inclusive, workers are exposed to worsening health and safety situations with increased cases of deaths and injuries at workplaces.
He noted that “In Nigeria, there is a dangerous unacceptable delay and non-payment of salaries of workers of up to seven months in some states, adding that it is immoral to owe workers.
“Delayed and non-payment of salaries is wage theft which should be treated as economic crime. Workers have the right to make ungovernable and unmanageable companies and states that are defaulting on wage payment, remittance of pension contributions and union dues.
“We certainly commend President Muhammed Buhari for working out ways and means to assist some states governors to meet their wage obligations. We must however say that workers’ monthly wages are legitimate regular earnings that must not be tied to presidential bail outs.
“Apart from non-payment of salaries, recruitment of workers for few available jobs is getting precarious. Some unscrupulous employers rather than employing directly outsource their workforce under inhuman and criminal terms as we have seen in the many commercial banks and in government agencies with the tragic case of immigration in which many applicants died after criminally paying for employment forms.
“Few Workers who are employed are getting poorer because of poor remuneration. Jobs are no longer secured as employers opt for casual short term flexible employment as part of the strategies to save cost and boost profit.
“The next Minister of Labour, Employment and productivity will be judged by the way he or she ensures decent work based on Nigeria’s law.
Many employers violate several aspects of our labour laws and in particular section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic and sections 9(6a) and 9(6b) of the Labour Act cap 198 Laws of the federation 1990, which guarantee Nigerian workers unfettered rights to associate and join the union.
“Decent work must guarantee minimum and living wages for the workers, wages that are paid as at when and due. Decent work means work that is se-cured and done by free workers who are entitled to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining to protect their rights in the world of work.
“Decent work delivers a fair income, security in the work-place and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration”.
– Idibia Gabriel, Kaduna