By Uche Amunike
Labor Day In Nigeria, otherwise known as International Labor Day in other countries is celebrated on the 1st of May every year in order to honor and recognize the dedication and hard work of the Nigerian work force.
In Nigeria, It is a national holiday which is celebrated by workers from different sectors, including public and private ones. The Nigerian workforce include individuals that work in different sectors, like agriculture, manufacturing, health, education and economy. They are actually the backbone of the economy of the country and without their contributions, Nigeria will not be where it is presently.
Labor Day in Nigeria serves as a reminder to the country, of how significant the roles of the workers are, in the growth and development of the country. On that day, workers are celebrated and a lot of reflection is done on their roles and then, most times, the government tries to renew its commitment to making their lives better as they serve as pillars that hold the structure of the country together.
It is also a day that presents the opportunity for workers to demand for better working conditions like fair wages and improved benefits for themselves, while the Nigerian government also reiterates their commitments to improve these working conditions and then, in most cases, announce new policies or initiatives aimed at improving their lives.
In Nigeria, Labour day is usually marked with rallies where there is usually a parade, with the governor receiving the salute from different workers representing their sectors and adorned in their various uniforms. After that, are speeches by different sectors where they make their demands of the government and then, an address by the Governor, who uses that opportunity to announce those new policies and initiatives.
With the large population of Nigeria, most workers are faced with many challenges, regardless of the numerous natural resources that the country is blessed with. These include natural gas and minerals, oil and rich agriculture. Yet, the average Nigerian worker is faced with highly challenging work conditions which are very poor.
Top on the list of these challenges is the issue of low wages which are mostly way below the minimum wage. As a result, it is a problem for them to afford basic necessities of life like health care, feeding and housing. The worst hit in this situation are those in the private sector, where wages are not regulated and can be really low.
In most cases, due to the challenge of low wages, the Nigerian worker is faced with the problem of living decently in an environment where there is enough ventilation and adequate safety equipment. This always leads to work related illnesses and injuries that have long term consequences on their health.
Most Nigerian workers are also not accessible to social schemes like health insurance and pension which should take care of them in cases of retirement or sickness. Even though the government made efforts to improve the working conditions of these workers in 2019 by increasing the minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000 per month, thereby improving their lives, a lot of Nigerian workers still earn less than that amount.
These are some of the anomalies that different sectors in the country hope to address during Labor day on every 1st day of May.