CORPORATE SLAVERY? The Pursuit Of A Nigerian Dream

The Salah holiday drew closer and like many holidays before, Mr. Jude planned to go out with some friends and unwind a bit. He anticipated the two-day break as though it were the end of the world. Looking at him, you could tell that he needed a break. Getting up as early as 5:00 am, to ensure he got prepared in time for work at 7:00 am, which would go on monotonously till 4:00 pm on a good day or 6:00 pm on some of those days you just wished you never got the job. The routine he called a life was beginning to take its toll on him.

Then came the eve of the long anticipated day and Mr. Jude’s boss gave a speech which sounded something like “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, due to the need to keep this organization ahead of its competitors, I suggest that we all be at work tomorrow. Now I know it is a public holiday so we will be working for just half a day. I would like to say here that since it is a holiday, it is optional to be here but may I remind you that your passion for this job, which is seen in your ability to make sacrifices is what determines your continuity in this organization. Thanks for your co-operation.”

It goes without saying that this was an outright case of take it or leave it. If you are like Mr. Jude, then you have probably had extra hours added to your working hours, taken a pay cut just to keep your job? Had your job description changed without it reflecting on your income, or suspended your rights just to ensure you retain your job which you most likely struggled to secure. The question then is, where do we draw the line between work time and personal time, actual passion for the job and faking a likeness for the job, to seem dedicated or being an employee and being a slave?    

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) exists to among many things, “educate all categories of Nigerian workers, defend and advance the political, economic social and cultural rights of Nigerian workers, emancipate and unite Nigerian workers and people from all forms of exploitation and discrimination and lead the struggle for the transformation of Nigeria into a just, humane and democratic society”.  Looking at objectives like these, you would argue that even more than the government, the NLC is responsible for the social and economic well-being of Nigerians, not excluding those under the umbrella of small to medium privately owned companies.

 While we can see the impact of the NLC in some aspects of society, I think we will all agree that the NLC have yet to fulfil its proposed aims and objectives, especially with regards to protecting all categories of Nigerian workers especially those in the private sector. The list of cases of exploitation and intimidation is endless. People are subject to inhumane conditions and left without choices in the execution of their duties. There is no respect for the personal lives of employees, there are cases where some female employees are demanded to go and cook for their bosses, male employees are turned to drivers and made to pick up or drop off their bosses children in school. Let’s not forget the sexual harassment that not just female workers but even male workers face nowadays. Contract agreements are breeched or changed with impunity and people suspend their rights daily because of the insecurity of their jobs.

I think the NLC needs to be more awake to its responsibilities. Begin with a proper accounting; how many people are working and where? It then has to be aware that the rights of millions of citizens rests on it, it must therefore not leave these helpless and choice-less Nigerians to fend for themselves. It needs to be active in the fulfilment of its responsibilities, employers who are found guilty of exploitation should be brought to book and the cries of helpless employees need to be heard. A periodic inspection of organizations should be carried out, the voice of the employees could be heard by the use of questionnaires aimed at finding out their working conditions, nonetheless, their voices must be heard. NLC should not be carried away by political activities like dividing itself over its leadership like it recently did; instead it should sincerely have the people at heart so that the strength of the union can be evident and we can actually see that there is dignity in labour.

By the way I am just a Bystander.
Follow: @dbystander1
Bystander: Moses


Before you post a comment, consider clicking on the small box that says Notify me below the comment box, if you wish to receive follow up comment from this post.