The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Thursday, briefed Nigerian workers on its strategy called the “worker-based strategy” which is aimed at keeping workers safe from the Coronavirus pandemic.
This is just as it noted, that the Worker-Based strategy which it said, is complimentary to the national strategy, is necessary, given that workers are at frontline risk, given their exposure at points of entry or departure, hospitals or any other place of interest.
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba who said this while briefing newsmen, added that in the face of Covid-19, workers are also exposed to secondary risks such as threats of loss of jobs or actual job losses.
He stated that the Congress adopted and recommended the hygiene measures by WHO, and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and encouraged workers to wash their hands frequently with soap under a running water source for at least twenty seconds.
According to him, “Workers should maintain reasonable person-to-person distancing at work. For now, we should avoid handshakes or hug. Upon discovering any of the Covid-19 symptoms, we are advised to report to the closest clinic. It should, however, be noted that a confirmed case is not a death sentence given the recovery record in the country.
“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-19. They should also put in place processes and mechanisms for continual worker education on the virus.
“With about four confirmed cases in Nigeria, there is strong probability that many more cases may be discovered soon which may lead to large scale services withdrawal. In more developed climes, people are working from home in order to mitigate further spread.
“In our workplaces where this can be done, workers should be encouraged to work from home. In such cases, workers’ emoluments should not suffer. Given the impact of Covid-19 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.
“Businesses should not panic and take adversarial measures against workers. Although government is under pressure, it should put in place policies to mitigate business and social impact.
“The actions of government would be critical in containing Covid-19. We urge government at all levels to strengthen emergency response mechanism. States should set up disease surveillance activities. Persons arriving Nigeria from countries with up to 1000 Covid-19 cases should be quarantined in suitable healthcare facilities”, he remarked.
He further noted that the advice to self-quarantine is counter-productive given the socio-economic realities in Nigeria, adding that 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-19.
“On our part, we are ready to work with employers and governments to ensure that workers get the needed support, and employers a fair deal in these trying times. We should see the Covid-19 pandemic as a challenge to revamp and reposition our healthcare facilities and system”, Wabba ended.