Stories by Bimbola Oyesola 08033246177
Organised labour in the textile sector has said there can be no recovery of the economy until issues surrounding productivity and wages are addressed by the Federal Government.
The National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers (NUTGTW), reacting to the last week’s report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria, with gross domestic product growth of 0.55 per cent, is now out of recession, noted that the Nigerian economy had the potential for faster recovery and not just exiting recession.
According to the general-secretary of the union, Issa Aremu, this could have been possible if government had put an end to the persistent crisis of compensation of the working class, manifesting in what it termed as “criminal” non-payment and delayed payments of salary by many states despite several federal government bailouts in trillions of naira.
Speaking on the the NBS positive growth numbers of 0.55 per cent, compared to the negative contraction of 1.6 per cent in 2016, Aremu, who is also a National Executive Council member of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), observed that Nigeria could only recover from economic recession with enhanced purchasing power, “which is only possible through prompt and adequate payments of over 10 million employed workforce.”
The labour leader, who likened Nigeria’s economy to “a big blind economy, which gets excited with a dimmed ray of eye sight,” said it was time Nigeria got ambitious in its quantitative and qualitative growth and development numbers.
He noted that the federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan ERGP (2016-2020), launched last year, envisaged 4.6 per cent real GDP growth in 2017, so that makes that makes the “recent token positive growth of 0.55 per cent a far cry from the planned target.”
Aremu, a labour representative on the National Wages and Salaries Commission, said the key to sustainable development was improved labour productivity in both public and private sectors, which could only happen with motivated paid workers at work and after work through quality pensions.
He advised the federal government to urgently address the crisis of compensation in all sectors, notably education, and come to terms with unions, such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which is still on strike, by paying all outstanding allowances while ensuring service delivery on the part of the workforce.
“Nigeria’s economic recovery is elusive, with constant avoidable work stoppages and loss of man hours in an economy trying to exit recession,” he said.
Aremu emphasised that the government must ease the cost of doing business as well as the cost of living of the working class through prompt payments of wages and pensions.