Podcast: How Unions Meet COVID-19 Challenges—and Beyond
When the Nigerian government sought to raise taxes on basic goods and decrease subsidies on key items like fuel as millions of workers struggled without jobs or wages during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 4 million members of the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) successfully stood up against these assaults. NLC President Ayuba Wabba says the union first tried negotiating with the government. When that effort did not work, workers were set to strike, he said on the latest episode of The Solidarity Center Podcast.
“Many Nigerians are in very difficult situations right now because of the challenge of COVID-19. Most of their income have been disrupted and their survival is so difficult. So that is why we have to respond, to actually draw the attention of government. And such an approach is very, very necessary. We thought that governance should be about the interest of justice,” Wabba told podcast host and Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau.
A New Social Contract
In a wide-ranging conversation, Wabba, who is president of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), describes efforts at the global level to build a post-COVID world where all workers are covered by social protections such as paid sick leave, access to protective safety equipment, health care and good wages.
“COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacies in the entire social protection system,” he says. “We are also trying to make sure that COVID-19 is one of the diseases that is also covered by occupational health and safety for all workers, including casual workers, including migrant workers, including workers working in the precarious sector because this is very important. If not, the inequality gap between the rich and the poor will continue to be widened.”
As a global union leader, Wabba is at the forefront of the international campaign to ensure the future of work ensures good jobs as well as green jobs to address the ongoing challenges of climate change. “You don’t need to contaminate the environment for you to be able to retain jobs. Jobs can be produced using greener forms of energy.”
Download Season One Episodes
The Solidarity Center Podcast, “Billions of Us, One Just Future,” highlights conversations with workers (and other smart people) worldwide shaping the workplace for the better.
Check out the full first season of The Solidarity Center Podcast and stay tuned for season two this fall!
- Domestic Workers: Leading, Growing, Thriving
- LGBTQ+ Domestic Workers Win Rights with Their Union
- Making the Gig Economy Work for Workers
- Winning Rights for Migrant Workers
- Defending Democracy: Workers on the Frontline
- Ending Gender-Based Violence at Work: The Campaign to Ratify ILO C190
This podcast was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under Cooperative Agreement No.AID-OAA-L-16-00001 and the opinions expressed herein are those of the participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID/USG.