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Don’t interfere in labour matters, FG warns state govs

The federal government has cautioned state governments to be mindful of deliberations on labour matters as issues of labour are in the Exclusive Legislative List, strictly for the federal government.


The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, said this in her keynote address at the 2023 session of the National Labour Advisory Council meeting in Uyo on Thursday.


NLAC was established in 1955 to offer advisory services to the Minister of Labour in the areas of Labour Administration.


According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Daju said 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.


She said, “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 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.”


The permanent secretary added that with the removal of petrol subsidy, there was need to make 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, 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, operation of all labour legislations and advise on any modification or amendments which may consider desirable.


Adebambo added that the role of the council was formalised into Nigeria’s labour practice with ratification of ILO Convention on tripartite consultation between government, employers’ and workers’ organisation 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, Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, urged government to ensure that they implement decisions reached during collective bargaining to ensure industrial harmony.


Osifo, who was represented by Tommy Okon, TUC’s first 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 would want to go on strike because it is expensive to manage industrial crisis, but warned that government should push the 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 government opportunity to walk the talk.”


The TUC president urged 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.


Participants in the 2023 Session of the national labour advisory council meeting were drawn from the 36 states of federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

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