FG cautions states on labour matters
The Federal Government has cautioned state governments to be mindful of deliberations on labour matters, as issues of labour are on the exclusive legislative list that is strictly for the federal government. The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs Kachollom Daju, stated this in her keynote address at the 2023 Session of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) meeting in Uyo on Thursday. Daju said that it was worrisome to see state governments establish ministries and departments of labour and implement guidelines and policies parallel to those developed by the federal government. According to her: "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 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 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 them 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, reviews the operation of all labour legislation from time to time and advises on any modification or amendment that it may consider desirable. Adebambo added that the role of the council was formalised into Nigeria's labour practise with the ratification of the ILO Convention on tripartite consultation between government, employers, and workers' organisations at all levels. She added that this has ensured a robust, functioning, and comprehensive social dialogue system in the country in line with international best practise. In his goodwill message, the President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, urged government to ensure that decisions reached during collective bargaining are implemented to ensure industrial harmony. Osifo, who was represented by Tommy Okon, First Deputy President, said: "Council must note that it is not setting up of a committee that matters; it is not the resolutions of the committee that matters, but implementation of the outcome of collective bargaining agreements. Osifo added that no organised labour will want to go on strike because it is expensive to manage industrial crises. "We are waiting, and Nigerians as of today know that we have tried as organised labour to give government the opportunity to walk the talk, he said. The TUC president urged government to adopt the 3Es principles of current industrial relations practise, which has to do with Energy, Environment and Economy, stressing that if these are put in place, there would be increased productivity and this will checkmate industrial crises.