FG to upgrade Industrial Arbitration Panel to Commission
Plans are underway by the Federal Government to upgrade the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) into a full-fledged Commission.
The Federal Government said the move is aimed at boosting the efficiency and speedy resolution of industrial disputes between employers and employees.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, disclosed this when he received Federal Arbitrators from the IAP, who paid him a courtesy visit.
Ngige, who praised the arbitrators for discharging their duties creditably, revealed that the proposed commission would operate with its bureaucracy.
The Minister recalled that the IAP, which came into existence 40 years ago, gave birth to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
According to him, it was because of IAP that the Federal Government decided that there should be a gradation of the labour law to establish the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Ngige said: “We can put up a Tribunal. We can put up a Board of Inquiry if a strike has occurred. If we cannot resolve the dispute here, we then go up to the IAP. If they are not satisfied with the IAP, then they can go to the NICN.
“So, it is the same ladder stepwise formation for the normal disputes. If it is interpersonal, it is State High Court/ Federal High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
“More importantly, I want to inform you that in the Labour law review, which the ILO asked us to do, the IAP is targeted as one of the places we will review, to make it a permanent commission.”
Ngige invited the arbitrators to join the ministry during the validation process to make their inputs and contributions, saying “we may think that we have done everything, but you may point out one or two things not done.”
He assured the arbitrators that the Federal Government would continue to support them in human resources and capacity building and in terms of material resources.
“I am aware that we are talking about your permanent site. We are also talking about making your current location more comfortable to work in. Plans are underway to install solar energy there.
“For your Lagos Office, it is going to be repaired or Umuahia, Taraba, Kano and other places, we need to develop one or two things there. We are also planning to expand the courts. So, we need special intervention funds from Mr President to see whether we can do it.
“Budget constraints caused by dwindling resources have made it such that people operate on envelopes. So, the envelope system has not allowed things to develop.”
Regarding the two arbitrators who died in active service, Arbitrators Samuel Peter and Inuwa Hassan, Ngige said his Ministry would include them in the National Productivity Merit Award list for the posthumous award.
Speaking on behalf of the Arbitrators, Rita Garba, who represented the IAP Chairman, Aniazoka Zokas, said the arbitrators rose after a four-day intensive workshop on arbitration anchored by the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators.