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FG begins review of labour bills as TUC accuses Indian, Chinese companies of harsh working conditions

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The Federal Government has commenced the review of the National Labour Bills in collaboration with its social partners to ensure best practice in labour administration and decent work in line with international labour standard.
 
At a three-day retreat organised by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, recalled that in August 2001, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched the Nigeria Declaration Project (NIDEC) in a bid to promote democracy through fundamental principles of the right at work.
 
The Minister explained that the main focus of the project, was in two folds, firstly to fund the review of Nigeria’s extant Labour Laws and secondly to strengthen local capacity to adopt a tripartite approach to the resolution of Labour issues through social dialogue.

 
The Minister identified the bills to be reviewed as Elimination of sexual harassment in the work place, Labour migration, elimination of child Labour, the promotion of gender equality, occupational safety and health.
 
Other bills expected to be tinkered with by the stakeholders are bills dealing with the restructuring of existing institutions like the Industrial Arbitration Panel, (IAP), The National Labour Advisory Council, (NLAC), and the office of the Registrar of Trade Union to ensure better and effective performance.
 
Like all labour legislations crafted in line with International Labour Standards, Ngige said it is expected that at the end of the process, the bills to be developed for enactment will promote right of work, encourage development opportunities for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security of human dignity and enhanced social protection for Nigerian workers.
 
He added: “This government recognizes that a stable and harmonious industrial relation climate and decent work for all are critical instruments for achieving the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERG 2017-2020), the realization of the goals and targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in terms of creating more jobs, improving livelihoods and ensuring sustainable development in Nigeria”.
 
In his welcome address, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, noted that the review of the bills and subsequent enactment into law by the National Assembly would bring sanity to the workplace and create conducive industrial relation climate for peaceful co-existence between the employees and the employers of labour.

Meanwhile, the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, at the retreat expressed worry that the private sectors are taking advantage of the lackadaisical attitude of government to further bring untold hardship on the workers.    
 
Noting that job insecurity is worse in Nigeria, he said employers sack at will blaming it on unfriendly business environment and high interest rate by the financial institutions.
 
He told the participants how the Lebanese, Chinese, Indians, and even Nigerian employers are punishing workers “and I feel we must make auspicious use of this privilege well because no one here knows when the next review with take place.

We must be more circumspect.“Workers’ number is their strength. Unfortunately we are losing them in droves no thanks to factory closures, high handedness of employers, and some other factors already listed above. I was tempted to believe that before this very review now there was a deliberate ploy to keep us fewer for easy management and to curtail what the employers (government and private) sometimes call “excesses of workers”.
 
“The Nigeria of our dream can be achieved only when justice and equity are given serious consideration. Workers and Nigerians deserve to be treated fairly too.
 
“We are worried that at this time and age we are still battling with some relevant Conventions of the ILO. Freedom of Association and protection of workers’ Rights (Convention 087), Right to organize (098) are still being denied workers even when they have indicated interest to belong to the union. It is despicable that workers are forced to sign agreement never to identify with any union, which attests to why many workers are being dehumanised and abused. As a country Nigeria is a signatory to these Conventions but implementation is a huge challenge,” Olaleye said.


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Chris NgigeILOTUC
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