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Promoting enterprise competitiveness through effective industrial relations

By Gloria Nwafor 
14 February 2023   |   3:08 am
The need to promote enterprise competitiveness and sustainability, as well as deepen collaboration with social partners and stakeholders in industrial and workplace relations has been brought to the fore.

Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Dr. Timothy Olawale and President, NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi at a press briefing on the state of the economy and impact of the vandalisation and destruction of business assets and properties by hoodlums during the EndSARS protests yesterday.

The need to promote enterprise competitiveness and sustainability, as well as deepen collaboration with social partners and stakeholders in industrial and workplace relations has been brought to the fore.

Arguably, industrial peace is key to national development, even though Nigeria has had its share of industrial unrest, both in the public and private sectors.
Recently, stakeholders gathered at a National Labour Adjudication Forum, to seek ways to lasting solutions to issues surrounding labour disputes to engender national development.
The forum, which had the theme, ‘Labour Adjudication in Nigeria: The present and the future,’ was hosted by the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) in partnership with the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
NECA President, Taiwo Adeniyi, who noted the implications of industrial actions, said stakeholders in the workplace must constantly find a middle ground of compromise to achieve a win-win perspective.
Adeniyi said all parties have a common responsibility to align their divergent views, consolidate their interests and put to use the machinery of conflict resolution as enshrined in various statutes to attain national economic development.
“While we continue to consolidate our partnership and collaboration with organised labour, we must say that the need to deepen the partnership and collaboration is imperative more than ever before, as the nation faces critical issues in the coming months,” he said.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, said there are a lot of changes happening now in the world of work, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. 
He said this was about bringing social partners and looking at labour relations, as well as jurisdiction within the context of the new world of work. 
Wabba maintained that promoting a symbiotic relationship between employer and employee is paramount, adding that the thinking of modern-day employment relationships and industrial relations is the panacea for best global practice.
“As labour, we need to strike a balance as we progress into the fifth industrial revolution brought about by the new forms of work. We must scale up the issue of social protection to all workers, irrespective of their work environment. We must expand their social protection cover. They are human beings and need to be protected. No worker should fall below the expected standard for the new forms of work so that they don’t lose their jobs to technology. We must find new ways and jobs in those areas. No worker should be left behind,” he said.
In his keynote speech, NICN President, Benedict Kanyip, said there is room to continue educating and improving the industrial court and laws guiding labour in the country.
Kanyip said that the benchmark should be the global standard set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), otherwise there would be more than enough labour litigation for the NICN to process in the future.
“We need to go back to school to study the new jurisprudence around labour adjudication because 50 per cent of what we are doing at the NICN is wrong,” he said, adding that “when we talk about the present and future adjudication of labour, there is work to do.
“Because most workplace rights are covered by international instruments ratified by Nigeria, I envisage in the future that predominantly most of the litigation would revolve around the rights of employees to get the work and to do the work.”
“I also envisage that NICN will be saddled with litigation as to the needs of sustainable enterprise because of the strength and power of employers, as well as the way employer group is pushing the concept of enterprise, competitiveness and sustainability,” Kanyip said.