Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged state governments and the Federal Government to International Labour Organisation (ILO), “requesting its Governing Body to, suo motu, and in its own capacity, establish without delay a Commission of Inquiry to examine systematic and egregious non-observance of Convention No 29 on Forced Labour and other international standards on the right of workers to timely payment of salaries.”
The organisation said the complaint was brought pursuant to articles 26-34 of the ILO Constitution. The complaint dated 19th June 2015 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni was addressed to Guy Ryder, Director General, ILO. The complaint was copied to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The complaint reads in part: “SERAP is seriously concerned that several state governments and the Federal Government of Nigeria are failing and/or refusing to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements, amounting to billions of dollars in arrears.
The state governments that have failed and/or refused to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements include: Osun, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau, Benue, and Bauchi states.” “SERAP contends that the failure and/or refusal of state governments and Federal Government to pay workers’ salaries and allowances and pensioners’ entitlements is a clear violation of the right to work recognized by various ILO instruments and article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Nigeria is a state party. The right to work is essential for realizing other human rights and forms an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity.”
“Failure of states to pay workers’ salaries is tantamount to penalising them, and as the International Labour Organization has ruled, menace penalty amounts to forced labour and economic exploitation. This is because the workers have not offered themselves to work without pay.” “SERAP also contends that the failure to pay workers’ salaries amount to a fundamental breach of the obligation to ensure the absence of forced labour and economic exploitation, and guarantee workers’ remuneration so as to provide an income allowing workers to support themselves and their families. The right to work contributes to the survival of the individual and to that of his/ her family, and to his/her development and recognition within the community. Therefore, by failing to pay workers’ salaries the state governments in Nigeria have violated the right of the workers to live in dignity.”