Lawyers urge government to promote workers’ welfare

Nigerian workers at the Eagles Square during the May Day celebrations in Abuja on Sunday, May 1, 2016. PHOTO: Ladidi Lucy Elukpo.

Nigerian workers at the Eagles Square during the May Day celebrations in Abuja on Sunday, May 1, 2016. PHOTO: Ladidi Lucy Elukpo.

Some lawyers in Lagos on Saturday urged government to be more sensitive to the plight of workers, by adopting best techniques in promoting the welfare of its workforce.

The lawyers told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the one of the greatest assets of a nation was its labour force and underscored the need for government to ensure that the workers’ needs were met.

One of the lawyers, Mr Micheal Dugeri, noted that labour laws and jurisprudence had steadily developed in Nigeria with some gains recorded.

He, however, said that more still needed to be done in ensuring adequate welfare of workers across the country.

So far, labour relations in the country still leave more room for improvement.

The establishment of the National Industrial Court (NIC), the enactment of the Employees Compensation Act and the Pension Reform Act are some of the achievements which have contributed to the welfare of workers.

But we can still do more; the NIC is conceived as a special court to speedily dispose of labour disputes but overtime, the speed of the court has reduced.

This goes to a capacity issue, which needs to be quickly addressed in order to promote more awareness of the rights of parties in an employment relationship.

Labour unions need to be active in sensitising workers to their rights, as many workers do not know when their rights are being infringed on,’’ he said.

According to Dugeri, there is also the need to ensure upward reviews of workers’ remuneration periodically so as to increase their zeal at work.

In the same vein, Mr Justice Chimezie, a labour law expert, stressed the need for the country’s leadership to place considerable emphasis on the workers’ welfare.

He described workers as the bedrock of a society.

Chimezie also expressed dissatisfaction with the apathy of some employers toward the contributory pension scheme.

Besides, there are numerous cases of some employers who deduct pension contributions from workers’ salary without remitting same to the designated retirement savings accounts of the workers.

There are also cases of employers who have deliberately refused to register with the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund for the employees’ compensation scheme.

This clearly exposes their workers to the dangers of non-compensation whenever such workers suffer a hardship,’’ he said

Chimezie called on employers to pay appropriate attention to the welfare of their workers, adding that “adequate motivation propels workers’ dedication to duty’’.

Also speaking, Mr Anthony Makolo, a constitutional lawyer, called for an amendment of the country’s labour laws.

Our labour laws are outdated and need to be amended.

The principal legislation for labour-related issues in Nigeria is the Labour Act, which was enacted in the 70s.

Surely, many of its provisions are now out-of-date and require necessary amendments in order for it to maintain its role as a guide in labour relations,” he said

Makolo also stressed the need for workers to be treated more fairly by their employers, particularly in the areas of job security and unionism

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