(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – As Nigerian workers join their colleagues across the world to celebrate Workers Day on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, a Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations and Human Resources Management, Dr. Jude Nwoka, has called on governments at all levels and other owners of means of production to adequately provide for workers who are giving their best.
Speaking with Notable Outcome in his office, Dr. Nwoka, who is the head of department of Management at Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni in Rivers State, Nigeria, recalled that, but for some companies like Shell, Total and a few others where employees are adequately taken care of while in service and on retirement, the lot of workers in the public sector are largely uninspiring.
He said: “If a worker is putting in his best, the system should be able to provide for him. Let government and others who own means of production recognise the people that are converting those resources to making them have an outcome that is productive and profitable. This will give workers joy in celebrating Labour Day”.
He called on owners of means of production in Nigeria to subscribe to the global practice of moving beyond being work organisation centred, to labour centered relation where labour is given opportunity to participate in decision making in organisations.
The university don lauded labour unions for agitating for better wages and working conditions for workers, but harped on the need for the unions to be sincere and speak with one voice.
While insisting that no economy can work without the contribution of workers in the public and private sectors, the Industrial Relations expert regretted that labour in organisations are not doing well.
“In Nigeria, the relationship between labour and government has been poor; characterised by constraints and delays. This has been responsible for the uncountable labour unrests in the country since 1960. Sometimes, even resources to use to produce are not available”, he noted while recommending entrepreneurship as the best option for the increasing number of the unemployed in Nigeria.
Dr. Jude Nwoka, who gave the example of Aliko Dangote and others who are living their dreams in the private sector, further reasoned: ” If a man, who invests his best inputs for an employer does that for himself, he will likely do better and survive in the business world.
“People should not only be thinking of securing paid employment, they should also think of carving a niche for themselves where they could become entrepreneurs.
” They should put their resources together and at the end of the day become creative and innovative, and become employers of labour”..
The head of management department at Ignatius Ajuru University in Port Harcourt further disclosed that entrepreneurship is the current thinking in Nigerian universities, irrespective of discipline, urging Nigerian youths to embrace self employment instead of looking for elusive jobs.
Dr. Nwoka, who maintained that it was not enough to talk about the labour of our heroes past, harped on the need for the system to provide for those who are about leaving, after serving the nation for 30 or more years.
He said Workers Day provides opportunity to look at the contribution of labour and reward their effort, adding that it is discouraging for most workers in the private and public sectors to be complaining about unpaid retirement and pensions benefits long after disengagement from service.
The senior lecturer recalled that it was so difficult, and took so long for Federal Government to approve the minimum wage in Nigeria, at a time when the open market is harsh for the Nigerian worker, just as he wondered if the arrears of the Minimum wage would be paid to the workers by their employers.
As Nigerian workers celebrate their day, Dr. Nwoka hopes that the feelings and aspirations of the workers would be projected, concluding that labour remains the impetus in which Industrial Relations begins.