“Mass Retrenchment of Federal Workers looms over COVID-19”

The Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), has warned that the plan by the Federal Government to implement the Oronsaye Report will lead to massive job losses in public service through retrenchment.

The union said the policy direction, which is ill-timed, was another attempt by the advisers and drivers of the policy to pitch the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari against workers and their labour unions.

President Buhari, in response to COVID-19 realities, had approved the implementation of the report submitted by the Stephen Oransaye Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The 800-page report known as the Oronsaye report, had recommended the abolition and merger of 102 government agencies and parastatals, among others, to drastically cut the cost of governance.

In a statement by its General Secretary, Peters Adeyemi, the union said it saw the decision of the government to implement the report as a licence and cover to carry out retrenchment in some sections of the public service, saying it was not acceptable to the union.

It reads: “We in NASU see the decision to implement the Report as a licence and cover to carry out retrenchment in some sections of the public service and this is not acceptable to the union.

“The policy direction, which is ill-timed is another attempt by the advisers and drivers of the policy to pitch the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari against workers and their unions.

“It is going to bring about job losses and poverty and this is not the time to throw people into the over-saturated unemployment market.

“Unemployment continues to be one of the most persistent and unimaginable problems facing Nigeria. There is a lack of national employment policy in the country to eradicate unemployment. Therefore, it is unacceptable for government to implement any policy that threatens the security of jobs and entrench poverty.

“If the implementation of the report is all about cutting the cost of bureaucracy, the government knows what to do without the implementation of the recommendations of the report.”

The union urged the government to jettison the advice of putting the jobs of workers in the affected agencies in jeopardy through the implementation of the report as it will put more families and households on the poverty line.

“On the other hand, if the Government must go ahead with the policy, its implementation must be transparent from the planning to the implementation stages. This can only happen by bringing on board critical stakeholders, especially trade unions that represent workers in the affected institutions.

“Government has to show workers and their unions a concrete plan on how jobs of workers in affected institutions will be protected within the framework of the implementation of the policy.

“We plead with President Muhammadu Buhari to have a rethink of this policy direction of his government. In this second and last term of his administration, he should be doing everything possible within his power to protect existing jobs rather than pursuing a policy direction that will take away jobs,” the statement added.

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