It has been well over a hundred years since the celebration of the first May Day celebration in Chicago, USA. Since then, enlightened nations and owners of capital now better appreciate and reward the prime, indispensable and invaluable role of labour in the scheme of wealth production.
I am proud to count the Lagos State Government as one of such enlightened owners of capital and employers of labour to whom the welfare, remuneration, comfort, continuing education and training of labour is of utmost importance. It is on this note, therefore, that I am happy to celebrate with all workers in Lagos State and the organised labour unions on the occasion of the 2017 May Day.
I commend the choice of this year’s theme for the May Day celebration. By choosing, “Labour Relations in Economic Recession: An Appraisal” as the theme for the celebration, the leadership of Labour has demonstrated a responsible sense of stakeholding in our joint enterprise to improve our society and leave lasting legacies for the generations to come through the creation of sustainable wealth and value.
As I have always made clear, the economic crisis we face provides the opportunity for us to do more things with less. The economic recession created ‘a sense of urgency’ which the State has been able to surmount because we have been religiously following the State Development Plan which has a detailed framework for taking Lagos State to the status of a modern and leading Global City.
We are confronting economic challenges with well thought-out policies to promote wider and deeper inclusion of all stakeholders through a number of innovative programmes including the activities of the newly-created Office of Civic Engagement.
Our administration is aware that, in order to deliver effective and efficient service to the people, officers of the Lagos State Public Service must be continually equipped with the necessary competencies and skills.
I want to seize this opportunity to urge the organised labour to continue to show understanding while rightly insisting on the due and just entitlements of their members. This is because, any industrial unrest will compound the challenges of economic recession.
Our government and other stakeholders in the management of our economy will continue to double efforts and explore innovative means of addressing the economic recession in order to make life abundant and worthwhile for the Nigerian workers who are the real engines of growth in our country.
I wish to commend the example of Lagos State to the entire nation in respect of industrial harmony. In Lagos State, both the government and organised labour believe that negotiations are more democratic and effective than unilateral impositions by the government or unilateral demands by the workers.
In demonstration of the commitment to this approach, the Lagos State Public Service Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) successfully held its statutory meeting last week to resolve issues affecting the welfare of workers in the Public Sector. Earlier in March this year, the quarterly interactive session of the leadership of the JNC (Trade Union Side) and our government was held to promote high-level discussions on areas of mutual interests in a bid to promote harmonious labour relations in the State. I can assure you that we will continue to hold these sessions and to take the issues discussed there seriously.
As I look into your faces as the representatives of the resilient, dedicated, productive and tax-paying workers in Lagos State, I ask you all to take justifiable pride in your accomplishments. While the labour movement has made huge leaps of progress, the ultimate pride of workers is in the tangible value they create.
In respect of the workers in Lagos State, this value is indeed huge and real to all residents of the state. This is because, as our schools become better-run and the performance of our students tremendously improve, the ultimate commendation should go to our teachers. As our hospitals again become compassionate and competent centres of medical care, our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and other health workers must be commended. As we re-imagine our road transportation policies and strategies in order to ensure safety and modern effectiveness, the co-operation of the drivers, road transport workers and automobile mechanics must be appreciated.
As we celebrate the robust and thriving economy of Lagos State with GDP values competing favourably with those of other African countries, we must salute the hard work of factory workers and other labourers who spend day and night working shifts in our industrial undertakings.
As we take pride in a private sector that is enterprising, competitive and innovative, we celebrate the knowledge and effectiveness of the management staff in the private sector. And, finally, as we witness the pleasant effects of well-conceived and well-implemented strategies, we cannot but note the unquantifiable contributions of officers of the public service who advise the government and implement state policies.
Indeed, without the support of the most versatile, resilient and innovative Public Service in the nation, our administration would not have been able to fulfil the electoral promises we made to the people of Lagos State. Also, the immense contributions of all workers in the private sector is chiefly responsible for the pride of place that Lagos occupies in our nation, in Africa and in the world at large.
I therefore call on all workers and the leadership of organised labour to rededicate themselves to the values that have ensured industrial harmony and economic resilience in our nation. You can always count on our support. You can always count on the commitment of my administration to the welfare of workers and you can always be sure that Lagos State will always be a comfortable and peaceful home to all workers.
I invite you all to join the Lagos State Government and the good people of Lagos State in actively celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of Lagos State. The great work that our past leaders and the workers who preceded us have done deserve to be recognised and celebrated. You are our success story. And as we celebrate, it is my fond hope that we all will make firm commitments to contribute our quota to the progress and prosperity of our home, Lagos State, the beautiful Centre of Excellence and Nigeria in general.
Happy May Day and thank you for your kind attention.
Itesiwaju ipinle Eko l’o je wa l’ogun.