NHRC insists prioritising labour rights critical to development

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged government at all levels to observe international best practices in handling labour related matters.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu, stated this on Sunday in a statement issued to commemorate the 2022 International Workers Day (IWD)

He stated that prioritising the rights of workers is critical given that human resources remain the drivers of development in any clime.

Ojukwu further stated that entrenching good working relations between employers and employees both in government and private sectors in Nigeria will bring about industrial harmony rather than suspicion, tension and strike which all come with their attendant negative tolls on the society.

He however observed that Nigeria as a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), cannot afford to renege on the acceptable standards of relationship with the workforce.

He said it is interesting to note that Nigeria as a member of the ILO has always deployed dialogue as a mechanism for addressing disagreements and grievances involving labour, adding that continuing in that manner will not only portray the nation in good light but also reinforce the confidence of workers in the government.

On the current strike embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and three other labour unions, the NHRC boss enjoined the federal government to expedite action to resolve the current impasse with ASUU so as not to further endanger the right to education of the university students who have lost an academic year as a result of the unfortunate strike.

He said: “Incessant ASUU strike has continued to constitute a major threat to the right to education of students of our tertiary institutions especially the public universities where the grater population of our youth attend.”

He regretted that the university strikes deform qualitative and productive education for the Nigerian youth and consequently, “education which is regarded as the fulcrum for national development is truncated” he lamented.

He said the ongoing ASUU strike has also taken an ugly toll on the lives and livelihood of family members of the affected lecturers as most of them reportedly find it difficult to cope with the basic responsibilities of taking care of their families.

He therefore used the opportunity of the IWD to call on the government to call ASUU back to the negotiation table, pointing out that while the union cannot have all their demands met at once, the government could intervene to urgently take care of the most disturbing demands, pending when more resources are available to do more.

According to the learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria, it is not in doubt that most of the demand being made by ASUU are genuine, saying that merited allowances, improved facilities and infrastructures are not in any way bogus expectations that cannot be taken care of, considering the positive effects these will have on our universities.

He stated that the preference of University Transparent Accountability Solution (UTAS) to IPPIS by ASUU is something that the government could look into with a view to possibly making some necessary adjustments that will be favourable to both parties.

He called on all the parties to use the opportunity of this year’s IWD to resolve all issues outstanding on the strike and get the students back to schools and stop the further violation of right to education and development of the students.

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