Senate to Reduce FG’s Control over Labour

The Upper Chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday, moved for the enactment of a law that would establish three major institutions, aimed at whittling down the involvement of the Federal government in labour related issues.

The bill, which went through the second reading on Tuesday is titled, “A bill for an Act to establish the National Commission for Conciliation and Arbitration, National Labour Council, the Office of the Registrar of Trade Unions, etc to administer the provisions of labour laws in Nigeria and for matters connected therewith, 2014.”

The bill, which was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, seeks to reduce the powers of the government during labour disputes, which, he said, “causes most disputes to be unresolved.”

Leading the debate on Wednesday, Ndoma-Egba said, “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.”

Speaking further, the lawmaker said employers and labour ought to join the government in dealing with industrial relations and dispute resolutions in the country.

“The objective of the bill is to create labour institutions that are independent, impartial, flexible, simple and functional; to administer the provisions of all labour laws in Nigeria as it affects freedom of association, industrial relations, working conditions, health and occupational safety; comply with the ILO convention 144, to which Nigeria is a party and has ratified and promote the prevention, containment and speedy resolution of labour disputes,” Ndoma-Egba said.

The bill was supported by a majority of the senators and was referred to the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, which is expected to submit its report in four weeks time.

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