Trade Unions Affiliates With NLC To Assist Stranded Nigerian Migrants In Europe 


Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC in Lagos, gathered some of its affiliates to train them on how to address migrant workers’ challenges within the ambit of interregional collaboration with the aid of Trade Union.

The workshop specifically centered on Interregional collaboration between Trade Unions in Nigeria and countries of destination and the Trade Union information guide on return and reintegration of migrants and migrant workers in Nigeria.

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With the support of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, the workshop was also to give wider publicity to the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, and the Information Guide as tools to facilitate and further the collaboration between NLC and General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions, GFBTU and trade unions effectiveness in the return and reintegration processes.

The workshop equally targeted at “awareness raising and sensitisation of workers’ organizations, their members and other relevant stakeholders in Nigeria on the MoU and the Information guide to safeguard rights of migrant workers along the migration cycle improved.”

Trapped migrant workers

Welcoming participants, NLC General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, lamented that investigations revealed that many Nigerian migrant workers especially retirees who intended to return home to Nigeria are stranded in Belgium and other parts of Europe for fears of losing their pensions and other benefits.

He said to address some of these challenges Nigerian migrant workers face, NLC has been exploring opportunities to collaborate with Unions of destination countries to assist migrant workers.

According to him

NLC is committed to promoting better migration governance through fostering effective interregional collaboration with sister Trade Union Organisations in both origin and destination countries.

This commitment made the Congress sign MoU with GFBTU, a trade union organization operating in Bahrain being one of the Middle East destination countries for labour migrants, including those from Africa and Nigeria.

Also, the Congress developed, validated and launched a Trade Union Information Guide on Return and Reintegration of Returning Migrants and Migrant Workers in Nigeria.

This 3-day workshop will contribute to other activities towards improving and intensifying activities of Trade Unions and affiliate members in labour migration governance processes and give wider publicity to the MoU and the Information Guide as tools to facilitate and further the collaboration between NLC and GFBTU and trade unions effectiveness in the return and reintegration processes.

This will contribute meaningfully to position the NLC affiliates and other relevant stakeholders for effectiveness in promoting cross boarder migration governance, return and reintegration, and ultimately reducing the serious challenges Nigerian and other African migrant workers face in the Middle East.

This initiative will help to close the existing gap in trade unions involvement in migration governance, in organizing majority of the migrant workers and protecting their human, workers and trade union rights. It will contribute to operationalizing actions in the MoU and the Information Guide.

Sadly, we have elderly retired Nigerian and African migrant workers in Belgium and other parts of Europe, that have been forced to stay in Europe rather than their preferred love for their wanting to come to the homeland to live out their remaining days of their lives. But such a move will cut them off from their natural benefits, their genuinely and legally earned pension benefits.

So, we are having conversations around that, even the discussions that we are having with our colleagues in Italy is also hovering around that we have a huge number for Nigerian retirees and intending retirees that would have loved to relocate to Africa but the challenge of accessing their pension benefits keeps hanging over their heads and keeps restricting their willingness to come back.

We commend this initiative and effort as it will contribute to deepen trade union capacities on how to ensure better support for Migrant workers and members of their families as well as making the society inclusive, especially in the midst of the adverse effects of the COVID-19 and post the pandemic.

ILO’s Support

Throwing more light of the programme, Country Director of the ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ms. Vanessa Phala, who was represented by a national programme coordinator of the ILO, Austin Erameh, said ILO’s support for the NLC “focuses on strengthening inter-regional collaboration as well as disseminating information with its affiliate members on a resource that was developed again with support by ILO within the framework of the FAIRWAY progromme.”

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The information guide, particularly looks at providing returning Nigerian migrant workers with easy to use an accessible information that they will be able to gain guidance, information as well as direction on where they can get return and reintegration information. On the flip side, the FAIRWAY programme facilitated the signing of a MoU between workers’ representatives in Nigeria led by the NLC and workers’ representatives in Bahrain led by the GFBTU.

The MOU was signed in Geneva on the sidelines of the ILO. Basically, what the MoU looks at is facilitating collaboration and cooperation between two trade centres through the regional lenses, protecting the rights of migrant workers on both sides of the corridor.

It is within that context that we are furthering this support to the NLC, particularly bringing their affiliate members and stakeholders to look at the normative provisions of the MoU and also improving its implementation, particularly also distilling the provisions and seeing how we can support its implementation.

Ministry of Labour

In his remarks, an official of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Migration Division, Francis Onasi, commended NLC for standing in the gap, informing that the Ministry had been with NLC since the beginning of the process addressing the challenges of migrants.

He also thanked NLC for continuously fighting for the rights of Nigerian workers within and outside the country, among others.

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