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Cablegate: Building Capacity in Nigeria's Labor Movement

VZCZCXRO9674
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1936/01 2491113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061113Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0861
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 7833
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001936

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL, AF/W
DOL FOR SUDHA HALEY
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV KDEM NI
SUBJECT: BUILDING CAPACITY IN NIGERIA'S LABOR MOVEMENT

REF: A. ABUJA 1642

B. ABUJA 1366
C. ABUJA 1278
D. ABUJA 1155
E. ABUJA 1091
F. ABUJA 791

This is an action request. See Para 5.

1. (SBU) Following the failed April 2007 elections, Nigerian
civil society turned to the labor movement, and specifically
to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress
(TUC), for leadership in developing a unified message and
mobilizing the populace. Although the labor movement issued
strong statements condemning the conduct of the elections,
its leadership made a conscious decision to remain outside
the political fray. The June 20-23 national strike attracted
a strong national following and offered a release valve for
the nation's frustration. In many ways, the national strike
was the main way in which Nigerians expressed their
frustration at government policy -- this despite union
membership currently hovering at less than ten percent and
the informal sector representing the largest portion of
labor. Given the inability of other civil society
organizations to mount the kind of support and unity that the
labor movement has shown, Post believes capacity building
support to the Nigerian labor movement would be a positive
step in strengthening civil society at a critical time in
Nigeria's democratic development.
2. (SBU) Over the past year, LaborOff has noted a critical
need for basic capacity-building in the labor sector at the
individual union level. While the NLC and TUC are generally
well-coordinated and appropriately trained at the national
level, individual union leaders in the outlying regions make
regular pleas for training on organizing and mobilizing
membership, cash flow generation and management, and
negotiation strategies -- basic UNION 101 skills. The
Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labor Studies (MINILS)
in Ilorin, Kwara State offers training to tripartite groups;
however, Solidarity Center and union federation
representatives have indicated that, as a parastatal
organization, MINILS' lacks the capacity among its
instructors to address the union side of the equation
adequately.

3. (SBU) Based on consultations with Solidarity Center,
MINILS, NLC and TUC, as well as regional NLC offices, post
believes a two-day training workshop carried out at several
regional sites (Nigeria has six geopolitical zones) could
substantially improve labor's ability to recruit, retain,
educate, and mobilize members. Post envisions a tentative
program as follows:

DAY 1: (focused solely on union participants)
-- Organizing and mobilizing (to include cash flow generation
and management, as well as membership base education).
-- Mechanics for dispute resolution, i.e., negotiating
strategies

DAY 2: (tripartite participation)
-- Implementing and enforcing tripartite agreements,
including a discussion of the role of each of the tripartite
partners at local, state and national levels.
-- The impact of globalization on labor, including
discussions of casualization, decent work framework, and
work-place rights.
-- Day 2 would result in a working group at the regional
level to develop a regional strategy for tripartite
cooperation, thereby also establishing a platform for future
discussions.

4. (SBU) In discussions with the NLC and TUC, both have
expressed their interest and support for capacity-building
training. As well, MINILS has offered its support and is
willing to provide a staff-member to assist with the
tripartite portions of a possible program. (MINILS has said
they would request assistance to cover travel costs.)
Solidarity Center currently possesses in-house expertise to
provide training in organizing and mobilizing. There is
general agreement that the expertise to discuss the mechanics
of dispute settlement from a union point of view would have
to come from outside Nigeria. Solidarity Center also

ABUJA 00001936 002 OF 002


possesses the regional experience necessary to carry out the
planning of such a workshop if funds could be identified.

5. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: Post is requesting assistance from
DRL and interagency partners to facilitate capacity-building
in the Nigerian labor sector in light of its potentially
significant impact on democratic development. In addition,
we request that DRL use meetings with labor and democracy
NGOs to propose support for Nigerian labor movement
capacity-building.
GRIBBIN

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