Workers’ role in national development
ON MONDAY, Nigerian workers joined their counterparts all over the world to celebrate ‘Workers’ Day’, under the theme, ‘Workers’ Rights and Socio – Economic Justice’.
INTERNATIONAL Labour Day, also known as May Day is celebrated to highlight the importance of workers and their contributions to building healthier society. This day is a reminder of the contributions of workers to society in providing essential services and building infrastructures for the convenience of the public.
LABOUR Day commemoration is traced back to 1886, when the Hay Market Riot erupted involving clashes between labourers and police. Thousands of workers marched through the streets of Chicago in protest, demanding an eight-hour workday.
IN NIGERIA, Workers’ Day was first recognised as a work free day in 1980. It officially became a national holiday on May 1, 1981.
IN NIGERIA, like in most countries, the workforce is made up of individuals who work in various sectors including agriculture, health, education, manufacturing, among others. The workers are the backbone of Nigerian economy.
WORKERS’ Day is a reminder of the important role workers play in the country’s growth and development. On the day, Nigerian workers gather together to ponder their achievements and reflect on the challenges they face. They also use the occasion to place their demands mostly for better working conditions, fair wages, and improved benefits.
THE organized labour movements tend to use the May Day to prune their reputation for fighting for workers’ rights and better work conditions.
NIGERIAN government also plays a role in the celebration of Workers’ Day. The government characteristically, recognises the contributions of workers to the economy and takes the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to improving the conditions of workers in the country. The government also uses such occasion to announce new policies and initiatives aimed at improving the conditions of workers.
EVER since the day became a national event in Nigeria, successive governments have tried to promote themselves as friendly to the workers and committed to the improvement of the workforce through healthy welfare programs, better remunerations, trainings and conducive work environment both at the local and federal levels.
IN HIS 2023 May Day address, President Muhammadu Buhari advised the incoming administration of Bola Tinubu to continue to respect workers rights as part of its core development agenda. The president said his administration believes in the enthronement of decent productive work, fair income with security and social protection and in safeguarding the basic rights of workers.
ALSO, in his address, Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State, called on workers to focus and build on values that will help achieve the vision of a livable and prosperous homeland.
HE STRESSED that his idea of unionism is the solidarity of all workers, saying that only a healthy union of workers, not agitations, will make Anambra State stronger and livable, . He assured of his administration’s commitment to the welfare of workers and requisite improvements as the state’s revenue improves.
PRAISES for workers’ dignity and sacrifices are often stressed every May Day across the country. However, there are still some grey areas which Nigerian workers have to address, especially attitude to work.
WORKERS must contribute meaningfully to the growth of society. They should exhibit high level of diligence and commitment towards overall development of the country. Nigerian workers should not see Workers’ Day as a day of celebration only. They should use the opportunity of the celebration to address themselves and adjust positively to issues relating to truancy, lateness to work, aiding and abating bribery and corruption, among others. The day should also be observed as a time for them to make strong commitments and renewal of productive levels towards the betterment of society.