Nigeria Labour Congress has accused the Federal Government of taking actions inimical to its existence and called for the intervention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
NLC President Ayuba Wabba made the call in Geneva, Switzerland, on Thursday at the meeting of the ILO Committee on Application of Standard holding on the sideline of the 107th Conference of the world labour body.
Wabba, who is also workers’ representative on the ILO Governing Board, said that the ILO intervention was necessary, alleging that the Federal Government was undermining collective labour relations in Nigeria.
He said that a new version of the Collective Labour Relations Bill at the National Assembly was not a product of consultation, and largely different from the one the union had made inputs some years ago.
According to him, the amended bill will distort the nation’s industrial relations landscape.
The NLC president claimed that this new version was to have been surreptitiously passed into law, but for the vigilance and candour of Parliament to undertake due diligence.
He said evidence of the claim that the intention of the amendment was to undermine trade unions and unnecessarily distort the industrial relations landscape and temperature could be seen in one of the paragraphs.
“It says that if after two years of commencement of the application of this Act the Nigeria Labour Congress has not amended its constitution to conform to this Act, it shall stand proscribed.
“Of course, the mention of the name of our organisation in a draft proposal for amendment betrayed the undisguised malicious intention of the amendment.
“Rather, the government is seeking to use the process to weaken and destroy trade unions and at the same time claiming to expand “freedom of association and volunteerism’’.
Meanwhile, Wabba, also briefed the committee on what it described as total disregard of the principle of collective bargaining by the Kaduna and Kogi state governments.
According to him, sacking workers indiscriminately and refusal to pay workers’ salaries by these state governments constitute a violation of ILO Convention 98.
He also noted that the interference in collective negotiation process in the private sector had been a cause for worry to the Committee since 2009.
He added that the government had continued to claim that sectoral collective bargaining agreement must have its blessing before it becomes implementable.
“This is so that there is no “undue economic disruption” and so it has benchmarks for wages.
“This clearly contradicts Article 4 of this Convention for which the Committee has sharply pointed out in this report being discussed by this Conference Committee.’’
He added that few days ago, another infraction to this convention was committed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
He said that the minister was reported in some national dailies as saying that workers should not expect the new National Minimum Wage (still under discussion) to be finalised by September.
“When the minimum wage negotiation started, it was agreed by all partners that it will terminate with an outcome in September.
“The minister is thus unilaterally determining the negotiation outcome.
“We ask that this Committee to call on the Nigerian government to allow for genuine and good faith engineering of the intended reforms of the labour laws, so as to bring them in conformity to the provisions of this convention.
“We also pray this Committee to ensure that the Nigerian government works genuinely with the High Level Mission that the Committee of Experts has severally proposed.
“We know that this will benefit Nigeria, its industrial relations practices and ultimately, its economy,’’ Wabba said.