TODAY is International Workers Day or Labour Day. But the event is being market in low-key in Nigeria, owing to the global novel coronavirus pandemic which the country is grappling with.
This year’s edition is coming under the theme “COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impact on Nigerian working class.”
Apart from declaring today a public holiday, as has been customary in Nigeria over time, there was no provision for some of the annual rituals that mark the event which had come to be known as May Day in Nigeria. These activities include public rallies, demonstrations and match past by labour unions and affiliates at national and state levels. The president and state governors also use the occasion to show solidarity with the work force through speeches.
But none of these traditions would be observed today. No public gathering is taking place this time in view of the restrictions imposed by the government as part of measures to tackle COVID-19, especially regarding the need to maintain social distancing. Observers say this may be the general trend across the globe.
However, the Ministry of Interior, commended Nigerian workers for their resilience, patience and understanding, particularly in their support of the present administration’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
It will be recalled that Labour Day is observed as a public holiday in countries around the world, including Nigeria where workers draw the attention of the government and other employeres of labour to their plight of workers as promoted by the International Labour Movement.
But workers in Borno State have demanded the implementation of hazard allowance for health personnel involved in the control and management of the novel Coronavirus.
Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Borno Chapter, Bulama Abiso stated this at a press briefing to mark this year May Day celebration in Maiduguri today.
According to him, health workers have been risking their lives to save other persons.
“There is the need for the government to implement the hazard allowance approved by the Federal Government due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Abiso said.
Also, Cross River Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress has demanded N30, 000 as palliatives to all residents in the state to cushion the effects of the pandemic.
The labour leaders also called on the Cross River State government to partner with labour in the battle against COVID- 19.
The State Chairman of the Union Comrade Ben Ukpebi made the call in Calabar in an address he presented.