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Government recruits labour inspectors to enforce workplace rules

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Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment.

Set to mitigate impacts of automation on jobs
Plans are underway by the Federal Government to recruit more labour inspectors to boost compliance with labour regulations in the workplace, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has said.

Speaking to The Guardian on the sideline of the just-concluded International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland, Ngige described labour inspection as a vital area of labour administration, which has suffered inadequate funding.

He said: “Unfortunately in Nigeria, we have shortage of labour inspectors because they not replaced as the aged ones were exiting the service. We have 36 state offices, 10 zonal offices. We are supposed to have a minimum of two labour inspectors in each of the states. As at today, we have only about 100 Labour Inspectors across the country. While we are recruiting labour inspectors to bridge the gap, we are also training the existing ones.”

The Minister hinted that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is collaborating with Nigeria on Labour Inspectors train-the-trainers programme to boost the training pool.

The Minister also revealed that the Federal Government has purchased safety equipment and other tools labour inspectors need to ensure that companies, shopping malls and all business concerns comply with the law.

“Labour inspection is done in two ways. The first is to ensure that the jobs that are done are decent in the accordance with the Decent Work agenda of the ILO. Under this, we examine the staff strength, no casualization of staffers and that workers are not maltreated under any guise. The second aspect is the safety of the workers,” he explained.

Ngige, who is billed to bade the Federal Executive Council (FEC) farewell in the coming months to contest a senatorial seat in Anambra state, said the Federal Government is fighting against indiscriminate sack of workers by employers.

He explained: “We have been fighting against indiscriminate sack of workers not only in the telecommunication sector, but also in the oil and gas and banking sectors. Government will always insist that workers can only be sacked if the jobs are not enough to go round and must also provide evidence of that and they must also negotiate with the affected workers on the manner of exit which must be based on ‘first to come, first to exit’ principle.

If the unions notice that any employer fail to comply with this and report to the federal ministry of labour and employment, such employer would be in trouble.”

Commenting on the threat posed by the advent of automation to the existing jobs, Ngige said government would soon convey a meeting with relevant stakeholders to examine the threat and develop appropriate strategies aimed at reducing the impacts.

His words: “Technology is advancing and there is no way anybody can stop it. But we recognise the fact that the use of robot and machines by companies are taking away manual jobs. While government cannot legislate against deployment of technology in any sector, we are currently brainstorming on how best to tackle the challenge in such a way that we achieve a win-win situation. We are going to invite the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to a meeting so we can have an enlarged discussion around the development.”


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