How to avoid ILO sanction over Kaduna, Kogi labour crises, by Agary, Iloh
The Federal Government must adopt an industrial resolution mechanism to resolve the labour crises in Kaduna and Kogi states to escape the looming sanction from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), labour experts have said.
Reacting to the dragging of Nigeria to the ILO Committee on Application of Standards for flouting ILO conventions 86 and 97 on collective bargaining and freedom of association by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at the just-concluded International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland, a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Timiebi Koripamo-Agari urged the Federal Government to open negotiation on the sack of about 40,000 workers in Kaduna as well as alleged killing of a labour leader in Kogi and proscription of unions in the state.
Dr Koripamo-Agary who is also the Executive Director of Gender Rights Advancement and Development (GRAND), cautioned the Federal Government against trivialising ILO sanctions.Koripamo-Agary who explained that sanctions imposed by the ILO committee on the application on standard can be very effective and could have adverse effects on the Nigerian economy, said ILO sanctions have had effects on many countries across the world.
She said: “My advise to Nigeria government is to ensure that they influence the governments of Kogi and Kaduna to work with the labour unions in their states to resolve all the issues at stake. Labour taking the government to the committee is not good for the image of Nigeria. The committee has employers’ bodies, unions and some of the most powerful governments around the world in it. Members of the committee imposing sanctions on any country are not going to be a pleasant experience. The premise upon which this is based is that if a government cannot respect the right of workers, how will it protect the rights of the larger populace.”
She dismissed the notion that sanctions from the ILO would not be injurious to the country, saying, “that is to trivialise the issue. The committee has business people on the committee that can decide to pull their investments away from the country. Nigeria should not toy with this. It is in its best interest to address the issues that have been raised by labour.”
On his part, another former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Clement Iloh also urged the Federal Government not to take the threat lightly.
Dr Iloh observed that Nigeria is duty-bound to implement the ILO conventions it ratified.He explained: “Nigeria has a duty to ratify the convention is ratified. If ILO is not satisfied with complying with relevant conventions, the ILO can put Nigeria is ‘blacklist list’. This list will also put a stigma on Nigeria and it can lead the ILO withholding some of its technical assistance, trainings and development programmes to Nigeria.”
Reacting to the report of the NLC to the committee, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige said no Nigerian had been killed on account of labour activism and that the mass sack of workers is receiving government attention.He insisted that most of the teachers that were sacked by the Kaduna State government were ‘unqualified’.
He said: “We don’t need to wash our dirty linen in the public. My ministry summoned both the Kaduna State Government and the Nigerian Union of Teachers and they presented their case. We know the truth and we don’t need to bring such to the ILO. Some of the people disengaged by the Kaduna State Government from the records tendered to us are not qualified teachers.”
He hinted that there is window of opportunity for some of the sacked workers to reapply saying, “many of those that failed the qualification test have re-applied while the state government has also agreed to move some of them to others jobs. So, you see we are already addressing the issues raised by the NLC.”