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COP28: We’ll provide safety nets for workers as the world transitions, says NLC

COP28: We’ll provide safety nets for workers as the world transitions, says NLC
December 06
07:34 2023

Joe Ajaero, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), says the body will ensure that social safety nets and insurance policies are provided for workers who may lose their jobs in the face of the global energy transition. 

As the world begins the move away from fossil fuels, there have been calls for a ‘just transition‘ that leaves no one — including persons who work in fossil fuel companies, and whose jobs might be affected — behind. 

At the ongoing COP28 in Dubai, the NLC organised a side event with the theme: ‘Justice for workers in the just transition’, aimed at pushing for the rights of workers as talks to move to cleaner energy gain momentum globally. 

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Vivian Chime speaks with Ajaero, NLC president

Speaking to TheCable, Ajaero said although the NLC envisions job losses as the world transits, the renewable energy era will open up more opportunities for workers.

He also said the body will push for upskilling of workers who will be moving away from the fossil fuel space, to ensure that they are well equipped to gain jobs in the new areas that renewable energy will provide. 

“Despite the global perception of job losses, I don’t seem to believe so, especially coming from the energy sector,” Ajaero said. 

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“A transition that will bring about energy sufficiency and eradicate power poverty would be almost 100,000 megawatts or more. And then this diversification in the process of bringing clean energy will create more jobs and not job losses.

“Yes we battle to reduce emissions, however, more jobs will be created. These are virgin areas that if we manage well and check the level of emissions, we’ll have more workers working. 

“However, in anticipation of the transition, as representatives of workers organisations, we’re going to make provisions for social safety nets, pension policies and insurance policies for people who may lose their jobs.

“I think that’s an area for us because the pension and insurance policies today are grossly inadequate.”

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‘WE’LL ENSURE TRAINING, UPSKILLING OF WORKERS’ 

Ajaero: “We have enough manpower in every field but if it requires upscaling.

Ajaero also said the NLC will make provisions for training, retraining and upskilling for workers to get them ready for the jobs of the future. 

He said Nigeria has enough manpower in every field and that in any new area that opens up, the country has sufficient skills to handle it. 

“We have enough manpower in every field but if it requires upscaling, I think there will be provisions for that,” he said. 

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“But already, there’s no area that is not saturated in Nigeria, waiting for jobs.

“As much as we’re going to make provisions for training and retraining and upskilling these people, there will be new avenues for fresh skill acquisition. 

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“However, when people acquire skills and there’s no job to do, it leads to frustration. But if any area opens today, we have sufficient skills to handle any area.

“But it is a continuous thing as far as Nigeria is concerned. People have not stopped acquiring relevant skills in various fields. Nigeria is one of the countries in the world where you have expertise all over.”

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According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2023.

Below are photos from panel sessions Ajaero participated in at the Nigerian pavilion.

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