Stakeholders seek international best practices in Nigeria labour relations
Eminent Nigerians have called for the application of international best practices in labour relations and balancing the competing rights of both the employers and employees.
They spoke during a conference themed; “resolving disputes in an environment disrupted by technology”, which was organised by Perchstone & Graeys LP, in honour of Mr. Folabi Kuti on his conferment to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The stakeholders are, Offornze Amucheazi, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, Mr Mojid Olusegun, president of the National Industrial Court (NIC), Hon. Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip, among others.
At the second session of the conference titled; “the devil in the details, international best practices in labour and now/evolving employment and labour relations in Nigeria”, Offornze Amucheazi, stated that today, many employees in Nigeria are employed as casual workers because employers try to avoid responsibilities.
For him, that’s still a big problem, therefore, he urged the NIC to find a solution so as to ensure that the rights of workers are protected.
“One major problem is no defensiveness of the ministry of labour in terms of regulating the practices of employers,” he stated.
Justice Kanyip, in reacting to a statement by one of the stakeholders who said that the application of international best practices by the courts is employee centric, stated that the statistics of employees winning in the NIC is higher.
To him, this is because the NIC is waking up to the global best practice of looking at matters brought before it and doing what it ought to do.
”There are instances where the employer (defendant) didn’t show up to court, yet they won, that is to show that the NIC is more of an objective court than a one sided,” he said.
According to him, one major problem is that when cases come to the NIC, employers don’t even take the defence of the cases seriously, they do not work in a manner that suggests they really understand the issues.
“In a situation where an accusation or set of facts have been given, the very role actors who know the details of these sets of facts are hidden away from giving evidence,” he said.
Mr. Mojid Olusegun then noted that our labour laws are definitely outdated and are therefore already being looked into.
He also stated that a lot of employees are finding it hard to understand some of the provisions of the labour act.
“The NIC is beginning to reflect the provisions of the ILO, which Nigeria is a signatory to and in the process of doing that, most of those judgments now seem to be favouring the employee,” he said.
He also mentioned that the role of social media is affecting the employment relations and as such should be brought on board while reviewing the Labour Law.
“The pandemic has brought a lot of things to the front, things like deskless workers and remote working, therefore we should begin to see what laws we can put in place or how we are going to review our laws to fit into this.” He said.