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TUC decries harassment, exploitation of informal workers

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Wednesday said the harassment and exploitation faced by workers in the informal economic sector is unacceptable and should be addressed by the government.

The TUC President, Festus Osifo, made the call on Wednesday in Abuja at the 2024 Workers’ Day celebration with the theme “People First”.

Osifo said, in spite of the informal sector’s vitality and contributions to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP), it operated on the margins of legality, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation.

“The level of harassment and intimidation of the workforce here is heart wrenching yet the workers remain resourceful and resilient.

“The level of exploitation and outright extortion is deep and leaves the soul weeping.

“The toiling and exasperation and the violence meted out on them by operatives of the government is better left to imagination.

“It is like all hawks in government descend on them daily for what they call revenue generation,” he said.

The labour leader added: “They bear the brunt of government operatives, yet efforts are not made to address their basic needs.

“We, therefore call on the government at all levels especially those at the state and local governments to immediately check the over- taxation through multiple levies imposed on the men and women who eke out their living within the informal economy.

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“The drive for increasing internally generated revenue should not be a burden borne solely by the exploited masses whose businesses thrive in the informal economy”.

Osifo said that addressing the needs of Nigeria’s informal economy is crucial to inclusive growth and sustainable development.

He said deliberate policies should be made to formalise and integrate informal enterprises, providing legal recognition, access to financial services and social protection.

The labour leader added that gender-specific interventions were also essential to tackle challenges faced by women, such as, gender based violence and unequal pay .

He added that empowering the informal workforce would unlock their potential as drivers of economic growth, fostering a more equitable and prosperous future in Nigeria..

Osifo also called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC), for improved funding of researches in the country.

He said that the call was imperative because research is key to the development of any nation .

“The gross underdevelopment of Nigeria despite the abundance of natural resources is attributable to negligence of research development and innovation by successive governments.

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“We demand for the implementation of the science, technology and innovation policy and its provisions for the NRIC for improved funding of research.

“We call on the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the NRIC bill and for the President Bola Tinubu to give assent thereafter.

“Research development and innovation is a sure route to overall national development, job creation ,poverty alleviation, food security, diversification of the economy, reduction in over-reliance on imported goods, among others,” he said. NAN)

Angela Atabo
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