President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Ayuba Wabba has asked the International Organisation (ILO) to come up with a centenary declaration and convention that will end all forms of violence in the workplace.

Addressing plenary of the on-going International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Wabba also cautioned against allowing technological revolution to serve as a threat to decent work.

He said workers need a new social contract that will deliver decent jobs and entrench fundamental rights at work – freedom of association, freedom from discrimination, freedom from child labour, freedom from every form of gender-based violence, the right to living wage and the right to strike.

Wabba said: “As we progress into the 4th industrial revolution, we need an economic model that is socially and economically sustainable. The digital transformation should leave no one behind. Technological revolution should not be a threat to decent work.

“It is therefore important that we take advantage of a conference as this to interrogate very vigorously the old idea that social protection cannot be achieved alongside advance in technology.

“We must confront the fears that improved wages and decent work conditions are at odds with economic progress. We must demobilize the myth that there can never be enough for everyone irrespective of class, gender, and social status.

“There is indeed enough to meet our needs but hardly enough to satisfy our greed. We must, therefore, make the necessary sacrifices to keep the wheels of economic prosperity moving, the engine of social progress roaring and the wings of inclusive innovation soaring”.

He informed the gathering in Nigeria, there has been modest progress in the struggle for social justice, adding that “a new national minimum wage was passed by THE Parliament. President Muhammadu Buhari has also assented to the new National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act. We are now at the level of ensuring comprehensive implementation by all tiers of government and employers in the private sector.”

Wabba urged workers globally not to relent in the fight for social justice, saying “to win this fight, we must strive to build workers’ and trade union power. We must bear in mind that the fight for stronger unions are the best safeguards for democracy.

“In order to consolidate workers’ power and build resilient trade unions, the ITUC has prioritized the promotion of peace, democracy and rights. We demand regulation of economic power and the redistribution of wealth”, saying “for us, it is workers first, then profits.”

He said workers across the world refuse to accept the current historic levels of inequality, saying “we reject the reality that more than 70% of the world’s people have little or no social protection”.

He said further that workers of the world will demand a re-jig of the global tax systems in a manner that restores the re-distributive role of government, but will reject a situation where more than 50% of the global wealth is owned by less than 1% of the world’s population while insisting on social contracts that deliver social justice.

He said “ultimately, our objective of social justice is a shared one. Government and employers will gain more in a milieu of social justice and progress. Thus, we expect that the discussions and negotiations that has gone on in this ILC will expand the space for equitable wealth redistribution, and yield improved social contracts, sustainable work conditions, living wages, shorter work hours, better pensions, safer working lives, and guarantees for economic inclusion and social protection.”

While appreciating the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work for their excellent report, he said “the ILO Global Commission has exceeded the ambitious goal of addressing the challenges of the future of work. The Commission has indeed met the expectations of not a few working people of the world.

“I find the three overarching pillars in the Global Commission’s report on the Future of Work very exciting. These pillars are – Increasing Investment in Peoples Capabilities, Increasing Investment in the Institutions of Work, and Increasing Investment in Decent and Sustainable Work, all three revolve around a human centered agenda.

He re-echo the cautioned optimism shared by the Director General of the ILO, Brother Guy Ryder saying Brother Ryder was unequivocal when he said that the world of work is facing “the most profound and transformative” changes seen in one hundred years, an era he described as being marked by uncertainties and insecurities. Even more critical is his charge on all of us – workers, government and employers – to take responsibility for addressing this “defining challenge” we face.

“Brother Ryder went on to remind us of the three cornerstones that have defined the milestones achieved by ILO in the past one hundred years – ILO’s mandate for social justice, ILO’s tripartite structure and ILO’s constant capacity to adapt and turn towards the challenges of change.

“On these cornerstones, I see a lot of hope in the future of work. But to get to this desired future, we must continue to consolidate on our mandate for social justice. We must continue to strengthen our capacity for tripartite relations. We must continue to strive towards accelerated social progress in a way that ultimately engenders sustainable industrial peace which is at the heart of the aspiration and work of the ILO.”

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