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Nigerian unions mobilize for Africa Industrialization Day

23 November, 2015Eradicating smuggling and meeting the energy needs of local industry were pinpointed by Nigerian affiliates as most urgent actions needed from government in order to drive industrialization, create jobs and combat poverty in Nigeria.

A series of events to celebrate Africa Industrialization Day kicked off with a policy roundtable at which IndustriALL’s Nigerian affiliates presented the difficulties faced by their industries to representatives of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Customs service, the Electricity Commission and the employers federation.

Rapid industrialization is urgently needed in Nigeria. Rather than growing, industries are in decline. The garment sector, which used to employ 300,000 workers, now has jobs for only 30,000. Smuggling is a major problem in Nigeria with illegal imports of textiles and clothing from China and other countries dominating 90 per cent of the domestic market.

The impact on the local industry has been devastating. In common with other African countries, raw materials, which Nigeria has in abundance, are exported while manufactured goods are imported. There is a lack of refining capacity, leaving Nigeria reliant on imported products like petrol. Electricity supply is unreliable and expensive, accounting for 40 per cent of production costs on average.

Several speakers declared that the collapse in the oil price has highlighted the urgent need for Nigeria to diversify its economy and revive its refineries.

For the first time, unions from Ghana and South Africa joined the events to learn from the Nigerian unions how the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day can be used by unions to mobilize and promote their industrial policy agenda.

The policy roundtable was followed by a march by IndustriALL affiliates on the National Assembly, joined by their national centre the NLC and unions from other sectors, to call on lawmakers to support the unions’ industrial policy agenda.

IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina who joined the activities, praised the Nigerian unions for their initiative in bringing together unions with representatives of government and business to debate industrial policy in Nigeria.

Our Nigerian affiliates have set the bar high by showing how mass mobilization for industrial policies that benefit workers can influence government to do their job to create a positive environment for industry to thrive and create jobs.

This activism now needs to spread to the rest of the continent and IndustriALL will take the lead in demanding sustainable industrial policies for Africa.

IndustriALL will continue to work with African affiliates to develop their actions to promote sustainable industrial policy, including encouraging mass mobilizations in more African countries on the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day 2016.