President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assured Nigerian workers that the federal government would resist their retrenchment without due process as a result of the economic crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had expressed grave concern about imminent job cuts in the public and private sectors of the economy at the 2020 International Workers’ Day (May Day) celebration yesterday in Abuja.
But the President, who pledged to ensure that workers are protected, in his May Day speech, said he was aware of the anxiety that has captured workers’ minds as a result of the pandemic, assuring that government would not allow any sack unless it had gone through what he described as “due process of social dialogue.”
The president also told Nigerian workers that he had constituted the Presidential Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) with a mandate to come up with plans to reposition the economy both now and after the pandemic.
He said the committee had also been saddled with the responsibility of evolving ideas to grow the non-oil sector of the economy with a view to mitigating the effects of COVID-19, protect and create jobs.
“I understand the anxiety which has plagued the minds of workers over the possibility of job losses due to economic downturn caused by the pandemic and lock-down especially in the private sector. In this regard, the Government will ensure that no employer would retrench or lay off workers without going through due process of social dialogue which includes consultations with workers and with the Competent Authority – Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“Furthermore, I had earlier put in place a Presidential Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) with the objective of developing a credible sustainability plan for repositioning the Nigerian economy now and post Covid-19 crisis period.
“The ESC is required to specifically explore ways and means of growing our non-oil sector – all in a bid to minimise the adverse effects of the current crisis and to also protect existing jobs and even create new jobs to help absorb the teeming army of the unemployed even before the crises,” he said.
The President thanked health workers whom he said had been rendering great service to humanity, highlighting incentives the government had provided for them in expressions of appreciation to the workers.