Anguish, neglect and abandonment has been the plight of workers affected by the Boko haram insurgency. For most workers, the act of going to work daily has become a health and safety risk with many paying the ultimate price while carrying out their employment responsibilities.
But in the face of these challenges are untold stories of bravery and of courage shown by workers – primary schools teachers who will defile every fear of boko haram attack to report to school. There are untold stories of health workers, who will remain at health centres to cater for traumatized and wounded victims of boko haram attacks.
Teachers, local government workers, health workers, among others who were trying to earn a living to support their families have end up becoming victims of vicious Boko Haram terrorist attack.
While many lost their lives, others lost their jobs and their source of livelihood. Unfortunately, while much attention has been focused on the devastated effects of Boko Haram on the region, benefits for families of these workers are yet to be paid and worst still, not much has been written or said about it.
“The trauma experienced by working families at the peak of the insurgency is yet to be comprehensively addressed,” the America Solidarity Centre said in an eight page document released in Abuja on Tuesday.
“Teachers at all levels of the education sector have suffered disproportionately in terms of fatality, loss of jobs, dislocation from homes and communities. The death toll on workers of the state’s education sector alone provides an illustration of the damages caused by terrorism on Borno’s public sector,” the report stated further.
The America solidarity centre, a Washington based organization collaborated with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to carry out a comprehensive report of plight of workers in northeast part of the country. The report released by the documented woes and agony of workers and their families who have lost loved ones and bread winners
For instance, one Hawa (not real name) narrated how she lost her husband, a school teacher to boko haram. She now depend on financial assistance from the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) to survive
The NLC, the umbrella body of workers in the country, puts the death toll of workers since the commencement of the boko haram war at 2000. But more worrisome is what he said is the inability of government to pay compensation to the families of the deceased workers.
“We have lost more than 2000 workers. Teachers, local government workers and health workers, because they are usually the first line of casualties. Particularity teachers because the ideology of the insurgents is that they don’t believe in western education. And therefore the first person to be the victim is the teacher because he must be at the place of work to teach the pupil.
“Most of them were killed in active service. I am not happy that their benefits have not been paid. We want to therefore call on all the states that have been affected, that they must give priority to the benefit of these heroes that have died in active service. We will write a formal demand to those governors to say that those workers that have died in active service should be paid their benefit,” NLC president, Ayuba Wabba said.
But the figure is feared could be higher. The report by the American Soliderity centre, tagged, “when workers become target” highlighted that a direct consequence of the disruption of the formal economy by boko haram insurgency is a sharp increase in informal economy work.
It noted that while there is while there is some measure of clarity on impact of the insurgency on workers organization in the formal sector, little is known about the number of informal economy workers lost to the conflict
It reads partly, “Informal economy workers have no real capacity for adequate representation of members on issues affecting the sector especially within the conflict recovery phase. Although, there is leadership in place among these classes of workers, they lack knowledge on workers’ rights, basic law, organizing, leadership, advocacy, collective negotiations, networking and collaboration needed to improve their economic and social enterprise. Knowledge on basic laws as well as citizens and workers’ rights is lacking. There is high rate of extortion and tax injustice in this sector
“Alternative sources of income for most families were destroyed. Previously, workers had alternative income such as farming, animal husbandry and trading though spouse, all of those were destroyed.
Workers on salaried employment lost comfort of spending their earning on direct family dependents as their status meant they had to provide for displaced relations, friends and colleagues within their meager earnings. Most working families live below poverty line because a negotiated not on state minimum wage affected earnings.”
Statistics gathered by the American Solidarity Centre showed that as at January 2016, 546 teachers, 101 health workers, 6 nurses have lost their lives in Borno since the commencement of the insurgency.
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