THE Nigerian government and its social partners have commenced a comprehensive review of its labour laws to conform to international best practices and current realities in the world of work.
Towards having a smooth review of the extant laws, a three-day retreat to look at the National Labour Bills took place last week in Lagos. The retreat was held under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in conjunction with the social partners, which include the two national labour centers – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association; the umbrella body of Nigerian employers.
The retreat was declared open by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, while the technical session was chaired by the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN. It had in attendance the leadership of the NLC, the TUC, and the NECA. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) provided technical support throughout the exercise.
According to a communique issued after the retreat, five National Labour Bills were considered at the three-day retreat, and these bills include: Collective Labour Relations Bill, Labour Standards Bill, Labour Institutions Bill, Occupational Safety and Health Bill and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (Amendment) Act.
It was organised for the purpose of updating Nigeria’s labour laws to conform with international best practices and current realities in the world of work.
After intense deliberations on the bills, the communique said the government and the social partners were able to reach consensus on most of the provisions in the bills, while all other outstanding issues would be finalised at a validation meeting in Abuja.
The communique signed by Festus Keyamo, the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the President of TUC, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, and the Director-General of NECA, Dr Timothy Olawale, said the final outcome of the exercise would be forwarded to the National Assembly for legislative action.
In his speech, the NLC President, Wabba said the essence was to review stale labour laws and bring extant labour laws in Nigeria up to speed with international labour standards and global good practices.
Wabba said “There is no gainsaying the fact that labour laws reviews represent the most critical verve of labour relations in any clime. The fate of millions of workers, their families and businesses depend on the recommendations and proposals we will make during the course of this retreat.
“It is therefore incumbent on all of us to be prepared to make the necessary concessions and sacrifice to protect the interest of workers, advance productivity for employers and create enablers for government to drive socio-economic development.
“While striving to realize the lofty aspiration of productive and progressive labour laws, we must also be mindful of the need to make laws that would pass the test of time. In this wise, both procedure and product are very important.”
The NLC President added “We must encourage ourselves as social partners to use the mechanisms, platforms and institutions of social dialogue to build confidence and a sense of ownership among the social partners. This is the whole essence of tripartism which is espoused by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to mean equal and independent partners seeking solutions to issues of common concern.”
Also speaking, Dr Ngige said the main focus of the project were in two folds, firstly to fund the review of Nigeria’s extant Labour Laws and secondly to strengthen local capacity to adopt a tripartite approach to the resolution of Labour issues through social dialogue.
Like all Labour legislation crafted in line with International Labour Standards, it is expected, according to the Minister that at the end of the process, the bills to be developed for enactment will promote right of work, encourage development opportunities for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security of human dignity and enhanced social protection for Nigerian workers.