EDO, OCTOBER 13, 2016 – From 2014 till date, over 4,000 workers in the steel sector have lost their jobs, and many companies have closed down due to economic hardship in the sector.
At the Steel and Engineering Workers’ Union of Nigeria (SEWUN) 2016 Annual Industrial Relations Workshop in Benin, Edo State, Its president, Comrade Elijah Adigun, said there was no company in the sector that has not engaged in one form of downsizing of workers or the other.
According to him, the only reason for the redundancy was the scarcity of Foreign Exchange (forex) to import raw materials.
“You will recall that in my address last year, I reported happenings within our sector in terms of failure of privatisation programme by the Federal Government that sold government’s shares in these industries to non-core investors, thereby rendering the very essence of privatisation totally useless. As we speak, none of these sold government agencies has made any progress,” Adigun said.
Adigun said the situation had forced many companies to either downsize or shut down.
“The unemployment situation is seriously bad, yet the government is appealing that they share our pains as if that will bring food to the table. What we need now is massive job creation and not empty slogan that appeals to nobody,” Adigun said.
He pointed out that no meaningful success wouls be recorded in a country where the national minimum wage was N18,000, adding that no worker can survive with such meagre salary.
“Government should, therefore, diversify the economy; create massive job opportunities for the army of unemployed youths with a living wage that will distract them from seeking alternative corrupt sources of income to make ends meet,” Adigun recommended.
The General Secretary of the Union, Comrade Michael Ogbolu, said the union was against the sale of government’s assets, arguing that it will lead to the death of most of the organisations.
“We are all living witnesses when the previous administrations privatised some wholly and partially owned Federal Government companies, while assuring Nigerians that the programme would lead to increased capacity utilisation aimed at creating jobs for our teeming workforce.
“Instead, the programme led to the death of most privatised companies, because the companies were sold to entrepreneurs without expertise to manage the companies sold to them,” Ogbolu recalled.
He said a good example of the charade was the sale of Steyr Nigeria Limited, Bauchi; Leyland Nigeria Limited, Ibadan; National Trucks Limited, Kano; Volkswagen Nigeria Limited; among others.
“Having successfully squandered the proceeds of sales of privatised companies and plunged the nation into recession, the same people are flying the kite to sell part of our remaining national assets such as the performing Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (LNNG).
“We wish to call on the conference in session to as a matter of necessity endorse the wise resolution of the labour community to embark on protest should the Federal Government persist to nurse the dream to further sell part of our performing national assets, as ordinary Nigerians including workers will bear the brunt of the aftermath,” Ogbolu said.