TMC PRESS RELEASE
The Muslim Congress (TMC)
1 Thanni Olodo Street, Jibowu Bus-stop, Lagos
May 1, 2016
WE EXPRESS SOLIDARITY WITH NLC AND TUC ON THE 2016 WORKERS’ DAY CELEBRATION
The Muslim Congress (TMC) expresses solidarity with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) as they mark the 2016 Workers’ Day. In retrospect, 1st of May of every year was set aside as Workers’ Day by the United Nations in solidarity with workers around the world with a view to improving their conditions of service and terms of employment. In commemorating this year’s edition, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared Monday, May 2, 2016 as public holiday for Workers’ Day Celebration.
Before the return to democratic governance in 1999 and till date, the living conditions of Nigerian workers had worsened on account of ineffective compensation management, bad governance, looting of the coffers by politicians with impunity and infrastructural neglects unleashed on the country by the corrupt political elites in the country.
These periods witnessed several strike actions and lock-outs embarked upon by the trade unions of the doctors, lawyers, teachers, judicial workers and oil workers with attendant devastating economic consequences such as loss of national output, decrease in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), manpower/man-hour loss, capital flight and low Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Indeed workers’ welfare have not been taken seriously by the three levels of government. There are state governments in Nigeria owing their workers arrears of salaries and pensions, yet the governors of these states live a flashy lifestyles.
Despite change in government, strike actions have not abated in the Nigerian public service, as several unions have issued fresh notices and ultimatum to governments, demanding for improved working conditions, allowances or unpaid salaries. Must Nigerian workers embark on strike or issue threat to their employers before they are heard or taken seriously? The cases of unpaid salaries in some states is pathetic and worrisome! When and how did we get to this point? What excuse do states owing months of unpaid salaries have? If Nigeria cannot pay a living wage to its workers, why pay mouth-watering salaries to the members of the national Assembly and other political office holders?
What presently operates in the Nigerian Public Service is a perverted personnel management which encourages corruption, impunity and exploitation, hence the endemic problem of incessant strike actions facing the country including states’ bankruptcy.
The main reason why exploitation of Nigerian workers persists could be situated within the confines of political corruption! Political corruption is the main disease, while associated issues are mere symptoms. It has become a norm for workers’ salaries to be diverted by state governors; it has been widely reported that the pension funds have been stolen; it is no more news that funds earmarked for capacity-building of workers in government agencies are shared by their chief executives. Worse still, payrolls have been over blotted by the senior public servants to accommodate ghost workers!
As we commemorate the 2016 edition of this day, TMC admonishes the Federal, State and Local Governments as well as the private sector organisations to take very seriously the basic right and privileges of the Nigerian workers. Within the change mantra embarked upon by the present government in Nigeria, it is appropriate to draw lessons and inspirations from Islam’s compensation and hiring management principles.
We state with pride that long before formal workers’ unions were conceived by the activists to protect workers’ rights, Islam had acknowledged and provided clear guidance on the rights of workers several years ago. Indeed workers’ wellness have not been taken seriously in Nigeria.
The first principle is that Islam dignified the notion of work and workers. The principle underscored the fact that workers toiling to sustain their wellbeing are more pious than the worshippers worshipping day and night and who rely on others for their sustenance. We recommend a genuine collective bargaining recommended by Islam because doing so positively motivates the workers and encourage them as individuals and group to accomplish their tasks effectively and efficiently and on time in order to receive the full agreed-upon compensation.
The second principle is payment of salary as at when due. Unnecessary delay in payment of salaries and/or non-payment of salaries to workers for months as being done in some states in Nigeria is a breach of trust and a serious sin before Allah. The norm on hiring and compensation in Islam is that as soon as the job is successfully accomplished, the worker should be paid his full compensation. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) strongly warned that Allah said: ‘I will be an opponent to three types of people on the Day of Resurrection: one who makes a covenant in My name but proves treacherous, one who sells a free person and eats his price; and one who employs a worker and takes full work from him but does not pay him for his labour’” (Al-Bukhari, No. 470, Vo. 3, Book 36, Hadith No. 470).
Also, in the Qur’an, Allah warns: Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things that are their due; and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order” Q7:85.
Justice should be the general framework of any agreement between workers and employers on any task or job. Justice underscores fairness and mutual considerations. Workers should not be overburdened with work by the employer, while the worker should also not cheat the employer. Workers have the right to physical and mental rest. On their part workers have the duty to ensure quality in the services offered. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) counselled: “Your slave/servants (workers) are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority. So, if one has one’s brethren under one’s control, one should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them in their hard job” (Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 46, No. 721).
The third principle is promotion. Promotion is one of the most effective motivators for workers to perform better. The governments at all levels are therefore advised to ensure prompt promotion with associated increment in salaries that are given to their workers. The recent call by the NLC and TUC for review of the minimum wage to N56, 000 should be objectively looked into vis-a-vis the economic down-turn in the country and the affluent lifestyles/jumbo salaries of the lawmakers in Nigeria. At the time of Prophet Muhammad, the consideration for promotion was efficiency, not mediocrity. Most establishments in Nigeria fail to apply this yardstick. Promotion is given based on nepotism, referral, bribe, sexual gratification and other subjective considerations. Islam advocates that the right man be promoted or chosen for specific job.
Finally, we counsel the Nigerian workers that to whom much is given much is anticipated. As we mark the 2016 Workers’ Day, let us be patriotic, sincere and dutiful in our assigned tasks and duties at the Federal, State and Local Government levels. The Prophet advised that, “If a slave (public servant) serves his Sayyid (master/employer) sincerely and worships his Lord perfectly, he will get a double reward.” (Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 46, Number 726). Your worldly reward for dutiful service is the salaries/promotion, while the celestial reward for serving Allah through service is the paradise.
Long Live the Nigerian Workers, Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Dr. Luqman AbdurRaheem, MNIM, FAAE, FCEnt
Amir, The Muslim Congress