Nigeria Labour Congress, Lagos
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HISTORY OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC)
The Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] was formally constituted as the only national federation of trade unions in the country in 1978. Before then, four labour centres existed. These are Nigeria Trade Union Congress [NTUC], Labour Unity Front [LUF], United Labour Congress [ULC] and Nigeria Workers Council [NWC]. The emergence of the NLC ended decades of rivalry and rancour involving the four centres and unions affiliated to them. The unions, numbering over 1,000 were also restructured into 42 industrial unions.
The organisation has had a chequered history, surviving two instances of dissolution of its national organs and consequent appointment of state administrators. The first was in 1988 under the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. Congress' opposition to the anti-people Structural Adjustment Programme incensed the military administration to take over the NLC.
The second military intervention was in 1994 during the regime of General Sani Abacha, whose government also became fed up with the labour movement's agitation for the restoration of democracy. Like the initial case, the military government dissolved NLC's National Executive Council and appointed a Sole Administrator. The same treatment was meted to the two unions in the oil and gas industry; National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers [NUPENG] and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria [PENGASSAN]. However, the administrators apparently added a further brief they plundered the finances of Congress and the two unions.
The dissolution exemplified the travails of Congress, its leadership, affiliates and state councils, under military rule. Arbitration, prolonged and unlawful detention of labour leaders, invasion and disruption of union meetings, seminars and other activities of Congress and its components by security forces and a vicious anti-labour campaign by the state generally marked the period. The military also invoked its legislative prerogatives to unleash all manner of legislation to check the activities of unions. For instance, under General Abacha, a decree that banned a section of the movement from holding leadership position in Congress came into effect.
However, with the death of General Abacha, the unions reclaimed Congress, culminating in a National Delegates Conference held on January 29, 1999. The leadership led the NLC from 1999 - February 2007 headed by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Mr. Abdulwaeed Omar- Labour President
Abdulwahed Ibrahim Omar became the President of NLC from February, 2007- 2011.
On March 1-3 2011, the Nigeria Labour Congress held its 10th National Delegates' Conference at a decisive moment in the life of our great country and the annals of human kind with the theme: Building A New Nigeria: The Role of the Working Class Towards National Transformation.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The fundamental aims and objective of Congress are to protect, defend and promote the rights, well-being and the interests of all workers, pensioners and the trade unions; to promote and defend a Nigerian nation that would be just, democratic, transparent and prosperous and to advance the cause of the working class generally through the attainment of the following:
i. To continually promote, defend and advance the economic, political and social well-being of Nigerian workers;
ii. To promote and defend the rights, well-being and interests of workers in the work-place and society;
iii. To promote and defend the rights, well-being and interest of pensioners and ensure their recognition by the Society;
iv. To continually enhance the quality of life and improve the income and other working conditions of workers;
v. To promote and sustain the unity of Nigerian trade unions, ensure total unionization of all workers irrespective of their creed, state of origin, gender and their political beliefs;
vi. To ensure the existence of one trade union and one federation of trade unions in every industry;
vii. To promote and defend trade union and human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance;
viii. To promote and defend democracy; probity and transparency in the trade unions and in civil governance;
ix. To work for the industrialization and prosperity of the Nigerian nation and ensure protection of jobs, full employment and humane working environment.
x. To continually strive to influence public corporate policies and legislation on all issues at all levels, in the interest of workers, disadvantaged social groups and trade unions;
xi. To establish relationship and co-operation with labour movements the world over, and in particular, play a cardinal role in African Trade Union Movement OATUU and the sub-region OTUWA;
xii. To continually promote workers education, principally for developing their trade union and social consciousness and for the empowerment of workers in the Nigerian society;
xiii. To promote and sustain positive industrial relations practice in Nigeria, by strengthening collective bargaining in all sectors of the economy and internalizing appropriate work culture among workers;
xiv. To ensure viable financial base for the congress and the trade unions by engaging in profitable business ventures, etc., jointly or severally owned with other establishments and these include right to own property, mortgage and disposal of same for the purpose of the attainment of the aims and objectives of the Congress and the trade unions;
xv. To print and publish literature for the purposes of enhancing and achieving the aims and objectives of Congress and its affiliates;
xvi. To co-operate with other organisations with whom the trade unions may share common or specific interests for the attainment of common objectives.
Congress membership is about 4 million and spans the public and private sectors of the economy. It has 40 affiliate unions and 37 state councils. The affiliates also have corresponding structure in the states. However, the membership excludes the military and para-military services as well as some civil establishments that offer services classified by law as essential. An example is the Central Bank of Nigeria. Nigeria's massive and dynamic informal sector is also largely unorganised although the modalities for its unionisation are now the subject of internal debates in the movement.
The mission of the Nigeria Labour Congress is to organise, unionise and educate all categories of Nigerian workers; defend and advance the political, economic, social and cultural rights of Nigerian workers; emancipate and unite Nigerian workers and people from all forms of exploitation and discrimination; achieve gender justice in the work place and in NLC; strengthen and deepen the ties and connections between Nigerian workers and the mutual/natural allies in and outside Nigeria and; lead the struggle for the transformation of Nigeria into a just, humane and democratic society.