NSITF seeks amendment to prosecute culprits of non-compliance with law
Plans are underway by the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), to partner the National Assembly for the amendment of the Employees Compensation Act 2010, to include the power to prosecute establishments that fail to join the Employees’ Compensation Scheme (ECS).
The Managing Director of the Fund, Adebayo Somefun, who disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend, explained that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, would soon lead the board and management of the scheme on a nationwide advocacy visit to state governors on the need for them to join the Scheme.
He explained that the advocacy visit will afford the governors the opportunity to understand the essence of the ECS and how their workforce can benefit from compensation to workers that sustain an injury in the course of work.
Somefun said the Fund is also collaborating with the National Industrial Court to boost enrolment into the ECS.
According to him, the broadening of ECA 2010 will boost the efficiency of the Fund in terms of prosecution of defaulters. However, he said the focus of the Fund is on moral persuasion and usage of testimonials of its achievements to convince establishments to join the scheme rather than prosecution.
His words: “The Employees Compensation Act 2010 does not empower us to sanction establishments that fail to comply with workplace occupational safety standards. All it says is that we should combine efforts and resources of relevant stakeholders with a view to preventing workplace disabilities and enforcement of occupational health and standards. It didn’t give us the right to prosecute them. Even companies that do not contribute, we don’t have the right to seal their premises. This is why we try to use moral persuasion and advocacy to achieve our aim.
“The moral persuasion and the testimonials of how the Scheme is bringing joy and happiness to families that suddenly lose their breadwinners have indeed played a major role in the repositioning of the NSITF for greater achievements within the last two and half years we have been appointed. With the cooperation of our dynamic Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige and the Board, the present management has surpassed what we met when we came on board in May 2017.
“The vision of the Minister is to see that most states of the federation come on board before the end of this year.
That is why the Minister is personally leading advocacy visits to state governors in trying to get them to key into the Scheme. The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, has pledged the readiness of the state to join the scheme. The details of the partnership would be unveiled very soon. This comes as more states are getting ready to join.”
He further explained that NSITF, in conjunction with critical stakeholders that include Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Trade Union Congress TUC), pays the high premium on prevention of workplace disabilities and the enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health Standards in the workplace.
“The present management believes that it is better to prevent occupational accidents than for somebody to lose his leg or limb and be looking for compensation. Indeed, our collaboration with NECA, which is tagged, ‘Safe Workplace Intervention Project (SWIP), which is an annual event where establishments that keep excellent work safety ethics are rewarded, is part of the steps taken to ensure workers are safe while at work. I am happy to report that this and other initiatives have helped to bring down the rate of industrial accidents in the country,” he submitted.
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