From the May Day just celebrated yesterday, it can be observed that most of our leaders and employers played for us a great form of art.
The scene that stared us in the eyes during the celebration showed us how these ‘noble’ men and women mounted exalted podium and scribble on prestigious papers to sing workers’ praises as if suddenly, workers have won some rare trophy.
Of course, this drama was not particular to Nigeria alone, yet we can say with more certainty that Nigeria’s own style made ours a relishing horror. In our case, there even seemed to have been some form of competition among these noble figures concerning who sang the praise-song best.
Somehow, it was yesterday that our workers became known as ‘the lifeblood of our country’ and the ‘greatest assets world over’. Should this not pacify any angry worker who has been drumming war song against his/her employer?
Unfortunately, for some of us who watched the May Day drama, we can detect the irony in it. The irony is that we are too familiar with the kind of relationship which exist between the leaders/employers on the one hand and the workers on the other hand in Nigeria.
We know that it is a relationship characterised by hypocrisy, insensitivity and sheer wickedness. Think about this: Were these praise-singers not the same persons that have been looking the other way while workers in Nigeria labour hard on the field and return to their homes with pains like those of a woman in labour?
The litany of their pains is inexhaustible: from late payment to none payment of wages running in months and years (think of the latest headline by Punch Newspaper, “12 states owe salaries despite bailout”).
Others include none compliance with allowance packages by employer of labour; workers receiving pay that is incommensurable with their workloads, living expenses, skills and experiences; inhumane conditions of work for workers with constant threat of sack which puts them under undue and unbearable pressure; and blockades to job mobility for workers.
Capping it all is the shredding fact that in many work establishment, the hope of a worker retiring to a restful life after service is more like a chase after the wind. Retirement packages are often denied or delayed until the retiree passes away without a taste of his/her hard-earned-reward.
Is this the same group of fellas who stood on our podiums like rock stars drooling out praises on our virtues workers? The just concluded May Day should be more about indictment on the part of leaders/employers in Nigeria who are in the habit of cheating on labour for unreasonable reasons. They need to know that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for denying a labourer his/her entitlement.
As ancient tradition has it, justice is when we give the other what is “his” [sic], what is due to him [sic] by reason of his [sic] being or his [sic] acting’ (Aristotle). Our leaders, especially those in the states recently indicted for owing workers’ - Kogi, Osun, Kwara, Bayelsa, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Benue, Narasarawa, Abia, Imo, Ogun States, should do the needful by paying up their debts. If our leaders can do this, we would come to appreciate their sincere commitment to the workforce of our country.
Dominic lives in the busy commercial city of Lagos where he enjoys mundane things of life which often form objects of reflection for him in his quiet times. He describes himself as a social critic, a poet and an essayist with keen interest in social reflection using literary art.
Some of his works, including ‘Lagos molue and the Procrustean Physician Palaver’, ‘The Jobless Housewife Story’ and ‘What Song could We Sing’, has appeared in Words Rhymes and Rhythm, Poemhunters, Pulse.ng, Nigeria News24 and others. You can twit him @Ayedom1.