Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday joined thousands of workers to commemorate the 2019 edition of the May Day celebration, commending labour unions for their understanding and cooperation in the last four years that ensured the State did not witness any industrial action.
Ambode, who spoke at the May Day Rally, held at the Agege Stadium, Lagos with the theme, “Another 100 Years of Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice in Nigeria”, attributed the industrial harmony and peace in the State to the maturity and cooperation of the labour unions, applauded them for adopting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms rather than resort to industrial actions.
Represented by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Rotimi Ogunleye, the governor said his administration since inception in May 2015, prioritised workers welfare and worked closely with union leaders to address policy and infrastructural issues, which according to him were the bane of effectiveness and efficiency of workers in the State.
“Having devoted myself to these objectives for the past four years and, having worked with you all, I am glad to say that it has been a pleasure to be your partner on this journey. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and I am grateful for the cooperation and support that you have given me.
“Indeed, I am pleased that together, we have given the people of Lagos State four productive years of sustained industrial harmony. This is, perhaps, the longest period of such in the modern history of our State and this was made possible by the culture of mutual respect and understanding we nurtured and deployed.
“The culture of openness, mutual respect and frank discussions that marked our relationship with labour and the resulting period of industrial harmony allowed the government to initiate and implement programmes and policies that have resulted in immediate and long-lasting tangible values to the workers, the State government, and the good people of Lagos State,” the Governor said.
The governor said aside regular training and seminars that workers in the State were exposed to, the state government embarked on a successful campaign of reorientation in the public service to enable workers embrace the Growth Mindset in place of the hitherto limiting Fixed Mindset that pervaded the public service.
He said that conscious efforts was also made by his administration to meet the pension obligations and reduce outstanding payments, while expanding programmes geared towards providing social safety nets to the aged and retired officers of the public service.
“Very importantly, our administration concluded the review of the State’s pension law by signing the amended Lagos State Pension Reform Law in the first quarter of Year 2019. This amendment, among others, increased the government’s pension contribution from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent. This is a legacy that we are proud to bequeath to the hardworking officers of the Lagos State Public Service,” the Governor said.
Noting that the theme of this year’s celebration was apt and projecting into the future ahead, Governor Ambode said he was confident that the labour union movement in Nigeria was marching forward with optimism and clear focus on the fundamental values and pillars of the labour movement.
“Indeed, the labour movement in Nigeria has come a long way and yet it remains on the right path, focusing on the values that are of utmost importance to the society and the economy.
“This theme is in line with the Federal Government’s focus on job creation, promoting entrepreneurship and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Jobs are important because they create further wealth and provide the purchasing power that enables the producers of wealth to continue to produce wealth and value.
“Dignity for workers is essential because it rewards those who diligently and laboriously apply themselves to the everyday work of creating value and earning a living with respect and social recognition. Finally, social justice is the only recipe for true peace and harmony in any society,” he said.
Besides, the Governor urged all stakeholders to see the occasion as a time to rededicate to job creation, stable work place, equality of all workers, dignity in labour and social justice, adding that the society must begin to honour, respect, and reward labour and not wealth.
Speaking at the event, Lagos Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Dr. Benson Oke, said he joined join the labour movement in Nigeria in looking forward to a future where the struggle is focused on uplifting and rewarding values such as social justice.
According to him, “the struggle of the next 100 years will require team work and synergy with the government. It is of utmost importance that stakeholders should commit to the promotion of the indispensable value of team work in labour and government relations.
“The machinery of organised labour for the attainment of its objectives will become more effective and efficient if all stakeholders rededicate to the values of team work and collaboration. Success in today’s world necessarily calls for people who play well with others and can effectively work as part of a team.”
Oke added that organised labour should bear in mind that social dialogue is recognized by the International Labour Organisation to include all types of negotiations, consultations or simply exchange of information between, or among, representatives of governments, employers and workers, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy.
In his remarks, Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Lagos State Chapter, Comrade Francis Ogunremi commended Governor Ambode for his commitment to workers welfare in the last four years especially in areas of prompt payment of salary, allowances and timely remittance of workers’ pensions, describing him as one of the most labour-friendly Governors.
He also lauded the various initiatives of the Governor in key sectors including massive road projects, solving traffic challenges especially launching of Traffic Information System, repositioning of State Emergency Agency, scaling up security architecture of the State, construction of Safety Arena, Health Insurance Scheme, among others.
Also speaking, Lagos State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sessi Agnes Funmi commended Governor Ambode for his excellent performance, saying the efforts made so far by the Governor remained a challenge for other State Governors to strive harder to achieve.
She, however, warned the Federal Government to completely drop the idea of increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) as a means of funding the 2019 budget.