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ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS, COMRADE AYUBA WABBA mni, TO OPENING SESSION OF THE 4TH NATIONAL GENDER CONFERENCE OF NLC, HOLDEN AT ROYAL TROPICANA HOTEL, UTAKO ABUJA, 8-9TH MARCH, 2017 Protocol
09-Mar-2017


8th March, 2017 ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS, COMRADE AYUBA WABBA mni, TO OPENING SESSION OF THE 4TH NATIONAL GENDER CONFERENCE OF NLC, HOLDEN AT ROYAL TROPICANA HOTEL, UTAKO ABUJA, 8-9TH MARCH, 2017 Protocol It gives me great pleasure to welcome our distinguished invited guests, and delegates to the 4th Conference of the NLC National Women Commission. This Conference is very historic for me, as this is the first time I am addressing it as President of Congress. Before now, I have followed the journey of the National Women Commission from the first Conference in September, 2003 in Bauchi, to the 2nd Conference in Kaduna in March 2008, uptill the last Conference which held here at the FCT, four years ago. Together with a number of my colleagues in the Labour movement, we have followed keenly the Leadership the NLC has been giving our movement in the area of promoting gender equity and women participation in the affairs of the trade unions in particular, and in the Country in general. The Congress has over the past three decades worked to promote women participation and involvement in the affairs of the trade union movement, in industrial unions and State Councils of the NLC nationwide. Against the background of the male dominated nature of our society and the trade union movement, gender issues are still challenging issues within our movement; women workers are still very much disadvantaged within our organizations. In the world of work, where both men and women are in employment, the chances are that women still suffer more discrimination than their male counterparts. This 4th Delegates Conference is coinciding with the International Women’s Day commemoration, which theme is “Be Bold for Change”. Add this to the theme of this Conference which is “Consolidating the Gains of Gender Mainstreaming in the Trade Unions”, we have a clarion call to act boldly to change, our ways and conviction in the family, in workplaces, in our unions and in the wider society to consolidate the gains we have made in the empowerment and advancement of women. The Congress in February 2003, during the 8th Delegates Conference of the NLC adopted the Gender Equity Policy. Almost 15 years after the adoption of this policy, it is perhaps apt to be talking about consolidating the gains of this policy. This Conference should rightly review how far the Congress and its affiliate industrial unions have in the last fourteen (14) years addressed gender issues in the trade unions. I recall that we received a report of the first four years implementation of the gender equity policy during the 9th delegates Conference of Congress entitled: “Mainstreaming Gender in Trade Unions: 2003-2007”, in February 2007, which was a 96 page document. It is my hope that the Congress Secretariat will make this and other documents available to our female cadres attending this Conference who may not be familiar with the journey of the Congress, and some of the crucial activities that were undertaken, which has laid the foundation for the current commission. From a position where we used to have an almost all male executive in most of our unions, the NLC gender equity policy has enable the Congress and virtually all of its affiliates to have increased women representation at the level of leadership in all their structures. To ensure that these changes are sustainable, the NLC constitution and that of affiliate unions were amended to ensure the inclusion of women representations at leadership levels. At the NLC level, not only is the Chairperson of the National Women Commission now automatically a vice president of the NLC, in the 2007 delegates Conference of the Congress, two ex-officio positions were created at the level of National Administrative Council (NAC) of NLC, to be occupied by women. At the 10th Delegates Conference, in 2011, the Constitution was further amended to make the deputy chairperson of the women commission also a member of the NAC of Congress. So at any points, we have at least five (5) people representing women in the National Administrative Council of NLC. They also are in the Central Working Committee (CWC), and National Executive Council (NEC), where the numbers are re-enforced. The 2007 amendment creating the two ex-officio positions also created these positions at the State Administrative Council (SAC) of Congress in each of the State branches of Congress, but in the implementation, unfortunately some of the States have failed to follow the spirit and letters of the Constitution. The Congress leadership will work with the leadership of the National Women Commission to rectify this anomaly where it is identified. At the level of affiliate unions, some progress has similarly been made. Women are represented in constitutional structures of many of our unions. Also a number of unions in following the provisions of the Congress gender equity policy; have appointed full time officers to handle their gender desks. I wish to however use this forum to charge the National Women Commission leadership that will emerge from this Conference, to conduct a gender audit of all our affiliate unions, to ascertain the level of compliance with the provisions of Congress gender equity policy adopted in 2003. A few days ago, I looked at the published gender equity policy of Congress, and found that the last two pages (19 and 20) has an 18-point programme outlined for the National Women Commission. I want to also task the in-coming leadership of the commission to let this programme guide your work in the course of your tenure in office. Though crafted about a decade and half ago, I find the programme to be very relevant to our present day situation and the challenges we are facing in the area of gender mainstreaming and involvement and participation of women in trade union affairs. As a trade union movement we need to intensify our struggle for gender justice and gender equality and link it up to building our organizations. We have to advocate and ensure that our government enforces better gender policies, health care and increase access to services to women as well as making the workplace women friendly. We must deliberately support women leaders to build their capacity to meet up with the challenges of unions and the complexity in the world of work. We need to train women leaders on issues of the economic and policy debates, collective agreements and legislation, especially those that affect women. We need to strengthen the National Women Commission to contribute and engage in the issues affecting women generally and national development. I wish to salute all of you today on the International Women’s Day (IWD). We are all aware that 8th March is specially set aside globally to celebrate the economic, political and social achievement of women in the past, present and future. We can say that some level of progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times. However, according to UN statistics, majority of the 1.3 billion who are absolute poor in the world are women. The first International Women’s Day was observed in 1911, and it is also on record that International Women’s Day emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. Over the years, the International Women’s Day has been recognized as a time to reflect on the progress made on women advancement, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women who have played extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. This year’s focus on the theme of “Women in the Changing World of Work” seeks to link Women’s work in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which has sought to place gender equality and empowerment of women and girls at the heart of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The Congress is committed to working with the Nigerian government in the spirit of achieving the SDG goals of ending poverty, promoting inclusive and reducing inequality and achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. I wish to comment on a few national issues as I move towards the end of this address. It is no longer news that our Country is in a severe recession, and prices of virtually all consumable and non consumable items have skyrocked. In the last twelve or more months the inflationary trend in the economy has gone over the roof, and the mass of our people, the salaried and the teeming millions of the unemployed, are facing very difficult times. Amidst these difficulties we have contended with a number of state governments that have misplaced priorities and have regularly refused to pay workers in the State pay roll, their salaries as at when due. Similarly pension, of retried public servants have gone for several months, and in some cases, years un-paid. We have over the last 15 months fought these State governments to pay up these outstanding wages and pension liabilities they owe workers. We will continue to do this till all salaries and pensions across the country are fully paid up. Comrades, distinguished ladies and gentle men, as you must have had we have also submitted a request for an upward review of the National Minimum Wage which was signed into law in 2011 by President Jonathan, by the present administration, Despite the fact that the minimum wage was due for renegotiation after 5 years, the current administration is dragging its feet in constituting a tripartite committee as is the practice to negotiate a new minimum wage. Against the background of the harsh economic times and the impact on the w.

 

 


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