Dignified work? Stupid!
In the age of “easy money making” brutal adventures through, rentseeking, wholesome looting of public wealth, kidnapping and total state capture, combined with hate speeches and idle talks about “restructuring”, productivity discourse in particular and dignified work in general prove a tall order. Indeed it is stupid, to talk of production, when Lagos state the largest commercial city could be shut down for more than 8 hours for a local government election with predictable results! North Koreans, we envy in totalitarianism at least do work during their “elections”! But lest we forget; section 23 of Chapter II of the most vilified 1999 constitution singled out dignity of labour as one of the critical national ethics. Other vital constitutionally favored ethics are patriotism, discipline, self-reliance, social justice, religious tolerance and integrity.
Many thanks to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) which at its recently concluded 3rd Pan-African Conference in Abuja brought to the fore, the critical issue of dignified work in a continent of almost a billion people, twice out performed in productivity by Belgium (less than 10 million people).
Undoubtedly, Almighty God is a Worker from the beginning until eternity to miraculously keep our earth spaceship on its orbit. Islam calls us to be responsible to our community and to work hard to provide benefit to others, rather than relying upon begging for charity. A Hadith has it that; “By him in whose hand is my soul, if one of you were to carry a bundle of firewood on his back and sell it, that would be better for him than begging a man who may or may not give him anything”. Sahih Bukhari 1401. We are told that “Providing charity for others is far better than receiving charity yourself.” All Prophets of Allah were the best examples of self-sufficiency, hard work, and responsibility NOT CORRUPTION.
For example, the Prophet Dauda (David) would never eat a meal unless he earned it himself! Prophet Muhammad (pbh) would also serve himself and perform chores for his family, rather than having others work for him. There are workers totaling some hundreds of millions in the world today out of world population of 7.5 billion in April, 2017. The United Nations estimates that world population will further increase to 11.2 billion in the year 2100. How many would be workers? Over the last five years, Africa has seen the highest rate of population growth at about 2.5% annually and by 2050 a quarter of the world’s population will be on the continent. By 2050 ten of the youngest countries in the world will be found on the continent.
While the working age population in Africa grows at 2.6% annually creating 96 million working-age people only 63 million jobs are created. There are 10 to 12 million young people entering the job market annually. But they are faced with a private sector that is too small to absorb them. The founding Congress of WFTU envisaged decent/ dignified work and decent life for working men and women. The founding objective drew inspiration form the U.N. Charter adopted in San Francisco on 26 June 1945 which emphasizes the dignity of human beings.
Decent work must guarantee minimum and living wages for the workers - wages that are paid as at when and due. Decent work means work that is secured and done by free workers who are entitled to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining to protect their rights in the world of work. Decent work delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration.
In Nigeria, there is a seeming end of work, no thanks to factory closures, public sector downsizing and low productivity caused also by crisis of compensation. There is a dangerous unacceptable delayed, non-payment of salaries of workers of up to 11 months in some states. Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State recently audaciously even illegally declared university union illegal even as he illegally owes teaching workers’ salaries. Delayed and non-payment of salaries is wage theft which should be treated as economic crime. Workers have the right to make ungovernable and unmanageable companies and states that are defaulting on wage payment while most governors exhibit expensive governance life styles organizing states weddings for their children and paying two terms predecessors’ huge undeserved pensions.