Akpan Umoh, Uyo
The Federal Government has cautioned state governments to be mindful in deliberations on labour matters as issues of labour were in the Exclusive Legislative List, strictly for the FG.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs Kachollom Daju, said this in her keynote address at the 2023 session of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) meeting in Uyo on Thursday.
Daju stated that it was worrisome to see state governments establishing ministries and departments of labour and implementing parallel guidelines and policies to those developed by the federal government.
She said that the trend if not checked could destabilise the already challenged labour administration system in the country.
“As you are aware, Section 34 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended places labour issues on the Exclusive List, thereby reserving the power to legislate on labour-related matters exclusively to the Federal Government.
“In the light of the foregoing, one of the critical agenda items slated for the council’s discussion is the emerging trend where state governments are establishing ministries and departments of labour and parallel guidelines and policies to those developed by the Federal Government.
“The trend is counterproductive and if left unchecked could destabilise the already challenged Labour Administration System in Nigeria,” Daju said.
The permanent secretary added that with the removal of the petrol subsidy, there was a need to make a conscious effort to align the minimum wage with the current economic realities in line with international standards.
She urged Council members to view the meeting as their own contribution to nation-building, assuring of the ministry’s commitment to improving and strengthening the council within the available resources.
In her opening remarks, Mrs Juliana Adebambo, Director, Productivity Measurement and Labour Standards said that NLAC as the highest tripartite body on labour matters is to review from time to time, the operation of all labour legislations and advise on any modification or amendments which it may consider desirable.
Adebambo added that the role of the council was formalised into Nigeria’s labour practice with the ratification of the ILO Convention on tripartite consultation between government, employers’ and workers’ organisations at all levels.
She added that tripartism has ensured a robust, functioning, and comprehensive social dialogue system in the country in line with international best practices.
In his goodwill message, the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Festus Osifo, urged the government to ensure that they implement decisions reached during collective bargaining to ensure industrial harmony.
Osifo, who was represented by Comrade Tommy Okon, Ist Deputy President, said that setting up a committee was not the issue but implementation of the collective bargaining reached was very important.
“Council must note that it is not setting a committee that matters, not resolutions of the committee that matters, but implementation of the outcome of collective bargaining agreements,” he said.
Osifo added that no organised labour will want to go on strike, because it is expensive to manage the industrial crisis, but let government not push unions to the wall.
He said, “We are waiting and Nigerians as of today know that we have tried as organised labour to ensure we give the government opportunity to work the talk.”
The TUC president urged the government to adopt the 3Es principles of current industrial relation practice, which has to do with Energy, Environment and Economy, stressing that if these are put in place there would be increased productivity and checkmate industrial crisis.