Lawyers canvass inclusive workplace along ILO’s regulation
The Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL), has emphasised the need for an inclusive workplace to comply with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Decent Work Agenda.
The lawyers, who argued that an inclusive workplace should take disability access seriously, maintained that in Nigeria, a decent work agenda is more of a dream for many.
For instance, they said sign language in the courts and translations of documents into Braille are critical, while women can be mothers and career people at the same time.
NBA-SBL, in a webinar hosted by BusinessDay, evaluated how businesses in Nigeria are complying with the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, said the country has the legislative structure for decent work.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Chairman, NBA-SBL, Sani Adio, argued that requesting for marital status and age of applicants seeking to take up roles in any company was discriminatory.
Although, he said not many Nigerians have reported experiences of being discriminated against based on gender, age or ethnicity at their workplaces, adding that such experiences are not uncommon in some instances.
A lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, and mediation advocate, Chinwe Odigboegwu, said: “I have been treated fairly from personal experience, but from a general point of view, there are different experiences. Discriminations based on age, marital status, and other characteristics abound.”
Also, human resource management experts, who demanded decent work decried that it is still a tall order for employers in Nigeria, adding that modern slavery is currently ongoing, just as there is a perpetuation of the cycle of poverty.
For the Human Resource Partner, Africa and Emerging Markets at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Nneka Idam, said high unemployment rate has guaranteed indignities in some work environments, thus hindering the promotion of ILO’s Decent Work Agenda in Nigeria.
She said: “Many employers are paying way below the minimum wage, and children have to work to augment the family income. They will have no time to go to school, and this perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”
Managing Partner, The Law Crest, Anthony Nwaochei, argued that the objective of the ILO Decent Work Agenda is to deliver a guideline for distributing the fruits of progress in a business or work environment. He insisted that employers need a shift in mindset, adding: “Every worker should get a just share or commensurate to their effort in making a business or an organisation prosperous.
This can come in the form of trust schemes or bonuses. Everybody is a stakeholder.
“This means that living wages, transport and housing allowances need to be provided. This is tied to the economic performance of countries.”
Decent work, according to the ILO, is a broad term that captures equal employment opportunity, working conditions, social security, social dialogue, and economic indicators meant to enhance the wellbeing of employees. It is central to sustainable poverty reduction and is a means for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.
The ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation recommends the establishment of appropriate indicators to monitor the progress made in the implementation of the ILO Decent Work Agenda.
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