18 October 2018

Nigeria: Govt Approves White Paper to Stem Industrial Disputes

In a bid to stem the tide of incessant strikes by labour unions, the federal government has approved the draft white paper on the report of the technical committee on the industrial relations matters in the federal public service.

Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, who disclosed this after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, said the Federal Public Service in Nigeria has been bedeviled with all sorts of problems and conflict areas.

He explained that government has set up various Committees, brought out circulars from the various government agencies all in a bid to stem the tide of industrial disputes.

He said, "So this Technical Committee which was inaugurated on the 21st of April 216 did their work and submitted to the Federal Executive Council in October 2017.

" The Federal Executive Council in turn impaneled a committee of ten which I chaired to do a government draft White Paper on those contentious areas that the technical committee had looked at."

He noted that these contentious areas are the enforcement of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act Law of the Federation 2004 .

According to him, "This is the section that deals with lock out of workers by their employer without declaring redundancy appropriately because the same establishment especially in the private sector workers are locked out by their employers.

"So the law there says that if you lock out your workers without passing through the normal channel, due process for the period of the lock out, the worker is assumed to be at work and will receive all remunerations and allowances and benefits accruing to him for the period and that period will also be counted to him as a pensionable period in computation of his pension.

"But when workers go on strike, the principle of 'No work, no pay' will also be applied because that principle is enshrined in that same section 43 of the Labour Act.

"That section says for the period a worker withdraws his services, government or his employers are not entitled to pay and the period for which they were absent will not count as part of his pensionable period in the public service."

Ngige said the council accepted it as a White Paper recommendation that should be gazetted because even the National Industrial Court has made pronouncement on that law and said that it is clear.

He further explained that another area of concern is that of public servants remaining permanently in the executive bodies of trade unions.

He said government realises that some persons in the public service go into trade union executive positions, hold offices and they do that as long as they are in the service.

In doing so, the minister said they would refuse postings and redeployment under the guise that they are doing trade union activities, adding that government is opposed to this.

Nigeria

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