The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), says it will introduce detention allowance to members arrested during protests.
Joe Ajaero, NLC Pesident, said this on Thursday in Abuja when he led workers on a second-day picketing of Shaanxi Construction Company building site at the ECOWAS Headquarters.
According to reports, the NLC had picketed the Chinese construction company over alleged unfair labour practices and dehumanisation of workers.
The bad working conditions are believed to have led to the death of a driver, Mr Austine Okunbor.
It also alleged that the company engaged the workers on an ad-hoc basis with no conditions of service attached nor any welfare or medical services in place, which sparked peaceful protest by some workers who were arrested.
Ajaero said that the allowance was to show support for members of the union who are harassed and arrested by security personnel during peaceful protests carried out in support of workers maltreated by their employers.
“I am making a pronouncement that henceforth, we are going to introduce detention allowance and this will start from the workers detained for the picketing done by the union yesterday.
“We urge all unions to start immediately because harassment and detention by security personnel is one of the hazards of the job.
“We need to retain this solidarity. It doesn’t matter how much, when a worker is detained because of his or her conviction, there is a need to support the person,” he said.
The NLC president said that the gesture would encourage more members to stand in solidarity with fellow workers who are enslaved and maltreated by employers.
He told employers to prioritise the welfare of its staff or face mass action by the union, adding that the use of force and threats to intimidate workers would be strongly resisted by the union.
Also, Mr Yakubu Dudu, Head, ECOWAS Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who came to address the protesting workers, called for peace and calmness.
“I want to assure you that Nigerian workers’ interest will be protected,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Emma Ugboaja, NLC General Secretary, has announced that the Chinese company had agreed to the demands by the unions on the safety of workers at the construction site.
It also spelt out compensation for the widow of Austine Okunbor, he added.
He further stated that a committee comprising various stakeholders had been set up to discuss specific details of the agreement and allowances to be paid.
“The challenge we have here has been resolved. All workers will formally resume work tomorrow.
“The unions have also been recognised in this place and the conditions of service that govern workers in the construction industry have been put in place.
“We have signed an agreement with the management and it will implement it because that is the bone of contention,” he said.