The threat by the Federal Government to withdraw the operating licence of any bank and telecommunication company that failed to yield to its earlier directive to stop mass sack of workers in their employ, has heightened the need for a review of policies that have given rise to the action by the organisations.
As the last count, no fewer than four banks had sacked hundreds of their workers for various reasons not unconnected to dwindling profits and unfavourable policies.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, made the threat on Monday while addressing world leaders at the ongoing 105th session of the International Labour Congress organised by the International Labour Congress in Geneva, Switzerland.
He said: “We will go a step further if they continue in their current sack spree. We know what to do. After all, the banks have their licenses given by the government. We know what to do. They need to comply. They need to come to the negotiation table.
“We did that in the oil industry and we succeeded. Even if you are going to layoff, there is a way to declare redundancy, there is a process. Section 20 of the Labour Act says it. You must call the unions and discuss with them. You don’t just treat them as slaves in their own country and you want us to keep quiet.
“We want them to maintain the status quo. As far as I am the minister of labour, I will protect the interest of workers; same to the telecommunication companies, they are also talking about compiling lists without discussing with anybody.”
The threat is commendable. However, beyond it, the Federal Government must look inwards to identify policies and actions that have made it possible for banks and others to retrench workers and discontinue them.
Fact is that banks, telecommunication firms and others retrenching workers are doing so largely because of the worsening economic conditions in the country at present which is aggravated by government policies.
So, as long as the economy continues to nosedive and government refuses to jettison policies and actions that are unfavourable to businesses, workers are bound to be laid off.