Senate seeks end to indiscriminate retrenchment of workers

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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Nigerian Senate on Tuesday passed for second reading, a bill seeking to strengthen labour institutions and address the indiscriminate sacking and retrenchment of workers by employers in the country.

The bill titled, “The Labour Institutions (Establishment) Bill, 2021” was sponsored by Senator Sadiq Umar who noted that the piece of legislation also seeks  to provide for the establishment of the National Commission for Conciliation and Arbitration, National Labour Council and the office of the Registrar of Trade Unions to administer the provision of labour laws in Nigeria.

According to the lawmaker, Trade Disputes in Nigeria are currently governed entirely by the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act Cap T8 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Senator Umar observed that, “the greatest challenge of the present dispute settlement is that the entire process from negotiation, conciliation up to arbitration is domiciled in, activated by and operated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity. 

“Under section 9 of the Trade Disputes Act, the Minister appoints the chairman, vice-chairman and all members of the industrial arbitration panel. This scenario is totally at variance With best practices in dispute settlement as it is difficult to see how such a body can be impartial where government is a party.” 

Objective of bill
The lawmaker explained that the objective of the Bill includes to create labour institutions that are independent, impartial, flexible, simple and functional.

He added that the labour institutions when established would, among others, administer the provisions of all labour laws in Nigeria as it affects freedom of association, industrial relations, working conditions, health and occupational safety.

The institutions, according to him, would also ensure compliance with the principle of tripartism as enjoined by the International Labour Organisation Convention 144 to which Nigeria is a party and has ratified; as well as promote the prevention, containment and speedy resolution of labour disputes.

President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan, thereafter, referred the bill to the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity for further legislative work with a mandate to report back within two weeks.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu

 

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