The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the amendment of Nigerian labour laws to bring them to the standards of international laws and statutes.
The approval followed two memoranda presented to the council by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who noted that the labour laws of the country, as presently being operated, are obsolete laws.
Briefing correspondents after the council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Ngige explained that the International Labour Organization (ILO) had pointed that out that Nigeria needed to bring its laws to be concurrent with international labour standards and conventions and principles at work.
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He gave a history of the effort to achieve it saying: “So, we had to do this. It is the long journey, we started in 2001 by a previous administration, and at a point, the bills were sent to the National Assembly for enactment into law in 2007/2008 only one came out after the five bills.
“Among the five bills then was Labour Standards Bill which will make for Labour Standard and replace the the Trade Union Act 2004.
“The second was what we call the Collective Labour Relations Bill, which will encompass a portion of the Trade Union Act, Trade Disputes Act 2004, Trade Dispute Essential Services Act and of course, the Trade Unions International Affiliations Act. So, the four were to be now melted into one law.
“We also had another bill for Occupational Safety and Health, which was supposed to replace the old Factories Act with which Nigeria operates, Operational Safety and Health System.
“We also have the fourth bill, which is called Labour Insititutional Bills. All the institutions under labor relations and activities, like industrial arbitration panel, which you know, is there now, but is not really there as a recognised agency and entity. It answers the name panel.
“So this new bill wants to make it a commission.”
“Again, we have the National Labour Advisory Council, which is a body again that we set up on recommendation of ILO principles at work. We want it to be a council. So, these are what the bills were sending (to the National Assembly) now want to do,” he added.
He said having resolved the gray areas in the proposed amendments, the final product was approved by the council and would now be transmitted through the Ministry of Justice.
The Minister said the second memo his Ministry presented to FEC was the Electronic Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (e-NSITF).
He also explained: “Nigeria now operates the old workmen Compensation Act, which is now Employee Compensation Act 2010.
“Therefore, what we are trying to do is to align the contributions of NSITF to make it fraud-free. People should be able to make the contributions of workers with ease even from the comfort of their office and generate certificates.
“You know that the ECA makes it mandatory for all employers to insure through a token contribution of percent of emolument of their workers to the fund called social trust fund of the NSITF.
“And that is the fund with which if you have an accident or disease condition or debt or disability in the course of work, you can make claim, like an insurance claim.”