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Senate reviews labour law to curb anti-workers practices

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• Okorocha urges colleagues to employ five youths each
As the Senate, yesterday, began review of the Labour Act CAP 2004 to curb anti-labour practices, Rochas Okorocha, representing Imo West District, challenged his colleagues to each engage five unemployed youths out of those roaming the streets and corridors of the National Assembly.

Okorocha, while contributing to debate on a bill for amendment of the labour law, said the time had come to lend helping hands to government by employing some of the jobless young men and women.

“I am sure that if all of us here can take five persons each, it would help in one way or the other to reduce unemployment. Workers and labourers are not beggars, so they must be treated with dignity. It is unfortunate today that because of unemployment, our sons and daughters are roaming the streets, even in the National Assembly here, looking for white-collar jobs which are not even forthcoming. They look for these jobs under any condition, whatever they can do to get it. This is what can be called labour abuse. Employers must be made to treat their workers with dignity and sense of humanity,” the former Imo State governor said.

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With the consideration of the bill, the Senate has started the process of reviewing the labour law to punish employers involved in modern slavery, child labour and discrimination against women in the work place.

Sponsor of the Labour Act Amendment Bill 2020, Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, in his lead debate, said: “It seeks to amend the present fines for offences in the Labour Act which are now obsolete and bring them in line with modern realities. The present fines in the Nigerian Labour Act are obsolete in context and content.

“The sanction, penalty and interest payable under the Act are ridiculously low and do not reflect current economic realities. These current provisions cannot provide the needed protection for workers in the labour market. There is, therefore, a need to review these penalties/fines upwards to achieve fair and harmonious employer-employee relations,” Onyewuchi said.

The bill, after scaling second reading, was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity for further legislative work.

The panel chaired by Abdullahi Kabir Barkiya, is expected to report back to the Senate within four weeks.

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