LABOUR SEEKS LOCAL CONTENT POLICY FOR CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has implored the Federal Government to formulate and implement local content policy in the construction industry to check the expatriate quota abuse as it did for the oil and gas industry.
President-General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, who spoke in Abuja, lamented the high rate at which employers in the construction industry continues to flout the nation's laws, especially in the area of expatriate quota.
According to him, most construction companies brought in expatriates to take over jobs meant for Nigerians with all benefits that accrued to the position, while Nigerians who are better qualified for the jobs are denied the opportunity to work.
Esele warned that the country's target of being among the 20 most developed nations in the world may not be achieved if government did not urgently address the situation.
'TUC notes with regrets and condemns unequivocally the continuous and flagrant abuse of the laws of Nigeria by Building, Construction & Civil Engineering, Dredging and Pipe laying companies in the area of expatriate quota abuse and demands the formulation and implementation of local content policy in the construction industry, as it is done in the oil and gas sector. Only recently over 60,000 construction workers were sacked due to non payment of over 60billion debt owed construction companies by the federal government and its agencies. Also the banking sector is presently laying off thousands of workers. In-a-nutshell there is no sector that is not negatively impacted by this anti-growth exercise. TUC's stake on this is that development and indeed the vision 202020 will be hard to achieve if this trend continues,' he said.
The TUC president tasked government to expedite action on the ongoing rehabilitation of the country's railway lines and ensure that contracts award are implemented without further delay, saying 'the ongoing rehabilitation of the country's Railway lines is in the right direction as it will witness the resurgent of the rail system as a means of mass transportation. However, we are not happy that at this century when rail system the world over have gone electronical. Nigerians are made to ride on outdated wagons reminisent of the dark ages of the Railway. The Minister in charge of this ministry should as a matter of national pride revisit this aspect of the contract.'
He faulted government liberalisation policy, arguing that 'a nation that does not deliberately set out to develop its domestic capacity does not have a future. Today, the nation's Sea Ports are full thus congested because we have opened our borders to all manner of imports from all parts of the world and we will not be surprised if that will include Fiji. This is not the time to open up our borders to all manner of import. We should rather open our borders to only items that are necessary.'
The truism of this has largely been demonstrated recently by the Asian tigers including Japan and the US in the past. This is the way to go. They did it we can also do it. We do not need those items whose ban has just been lifted. It will kill our local industries and further weaken our domestic capacities.
What is needed now is a deliberate policy of supporting local manufacturers at all levels of the production process. This will enhance their capacities thus create greater absorptive capacities in the economy to handle the flow of new demands for jobs. If there is no industry, there is no work. If there is no work, there will be no job for our people.'