The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the federal government and state governments to strengthen emergency response mechanism to tackle the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba while addressing journalists in Abuja said the actions of government would be critical in containing COVID-l 9, adding that states should set up disease surveillance activities.
According to him Nigeria should see the COVID-19 pandemic as a challenge to revamp and reposition our healthcare facilities and system.
He said the Congress has also decided to come out with its own worker-based strategy -to complement the national strategy put in place to tackle the virus.
He said, “A worker-based strategy is necessary given that workers are at frontline risk given their exposure at points of entry or departure, or hospitals or any other place of interest. In the face of Covid-l9, workers are also exposed to secondary risks such as threats of loss of jobs or actual job losses.
“A worker-based response is also essential given that in times of national or international emergencies, sectoral or organisational responses are usually helpful in minimising impact and finding sustainable solutions.”
Wabba however expressed concerns that given the impact of Covid-l9 on the global economy, especially with the fall in the price of crude oil, Nigeria is likely to be affected in the short to medium run.
He said businesses should not panic and take adversarial measures against workers, stressing that although government is under pressure, it should put in place policies to mitigate business and social impact of coronavirus.
He said, “Persons arriving Nigeria from countries with up to 1000 Covid-19 cases should be quarantined in suitable healthcare facilities. The advice to self quarantine is counter-productive given the socio-economic realities in Nigeria. Contact tracing of positive cases should be stepped up. Health givers should be resourced with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers. Finally, timely dissemination of relevant information is critical in the war against Covid-l9.”
He said on its part, the NLC is ready to work with employers and governments to ensure that workers get the needed support, and employers a fair deal in these trying times.
“Nigeria, like other countries at risk, has fashioned a national strategy for combating the virus since the first detected case in Nigeria on February 27, 2020. Our national strategy includes active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing, prevention of onward spread and sharing of full data with the WHO and other relevant authorities. At the moment, there are four diagnostic centres in the country. Also, there are a number of help lines. We have been made to understand that there are a few quarantine centres. The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress wishes to brief Nigerian workers on our own strategy, the worker-based strategy -which is complimentary to the national strategy,” he added.
He said, “Employers are duty-bound to provide facilities for dispensing running water as well as hand sanitisers at work places within the reach of workers. Employers should maintain well-ventilated and routinely sanitized work spaces as well as take other measures for preventing and containing the spread of Covid-l9. They should also put in place processes and mechanisms for continual worker education on the virus.”
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