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As we celebrate 2019 May Day

Workers Day, popularly known as international workers Day is a symbolic reflection of the sacrifice of workers for just and humane working conditions. The origin…

Workers Day, popularly known as international workers Day is a symbolic reflection of the sacrifice of workers for just and humane working conditions. The origin of the May Day can be traced to the historic fight for decent working hours that culminated in the prosecution and of execution of four trade unionists in Chicago, the United State in 1887. This decisive moment in the struggle for a just working condition through militant trade unionism was the origin of May Day.  May Day was globalised from 1889 by workers movement, being held in China from 1919. In Nigeria, May Day was first celebrated on the 1st    May, 1980 by the PRP led government of the old Kano state under the leadership of the Late Muhammad Abubakar Rimi.  Nationally, May Day was declared as a National Day by the Federal Government under President Shehu Shagari in May, 1981.

May Day is a symbolic reflection of the workers’ contribution to the material, social and political wellbeing in the workplace and in the society at large. Workers in Nigeria had historically strived for decent working ours in the work place, freedom of association and right to organise and bargain with employers in the work place.

The Nigerian workers under the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) will be celebrating this years’ May Day under the theme ANOTHER 100 YEARS OF STRUGGLE FOR JOBS, DIGNITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE. This theme was chosen to reflect the Centenary celebration of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that was formed in 1919.  Nigeria joins the ILO since 1960 and it has so far ratified 40 international labour conventions. It is noteworthy that ILO is the only UN agency that has workers as constitutive element. The ILO has been instrumental in the promotion of social justice across the world in the last 100 years.

The organised labour celebrated this year’s May Day with a Pre-May Day rally on Monday 28th March, 2019 under the theme March for Jobs, Labour Rights and Shared Prosperity. The rally decried on the protracted un-employment, collapse infrastructure, and increasing spate of casualization in the workplaces. The organised labour demands government investment in public works that could provide decent and sustainable jobs for the teeming population. Protection of labour rights in all sectors of the labour market, and  the immediate implementation of the 30,000 minimum wage that was recently signed into law by President Muhammad Buhari. There is no doubt, if the demands channelled by labour are implemented.  All Nigerians will share in the wealth of the country. As the motto of the NLC says; goes, Labour creates wealth.

Certainly, workers across the length and breadth of the country would celebrate this year’s May Day with high expectation for the immediate implementation of the new minimum wage by their respective employers. It becomes imperative for all employers of labour, from both the public and private sector to respect the sanctity of the law by fully implementing the N30, 000 minimum wages. Minimum wage implementation would certainly boost aggregate demands and thereby creates more employment. It is hoped that workers across the country will not be victimised in the process of minimum wage implementation.

There is no doubt, May Day commemoration can be a platform to reflect, and provide workable solutions on the plights of the working class and poor in both formal and informal employment in Nigeria. Ordinary people worldwide faced several challenges of insecurity, terrorism, and ecological disasters that caused unwanted destruction of lives and properties. Hence, May Day will continue to be a rallying point for workers everywhere, facing social and economic injustices. As workers celebrate 2019 May Day, May peace and prosperity rein globally!!!


Dr. Muttaqa Yusha’u, Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) Abuja

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