By EZEKIEL OBI, Abuja –
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday said it would strongly advocate against removing Labour from the Exclusive Legislative List.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba, in a statement said labour issues were presently domiciled in the Second Schedule, Legislative Powers, Part 1, Exclusive list, Item 34.
According to him, labour, including trade unions, industrial relations; conditions, safety and welfare of labour; industrial disputes; prescribing a national minimum wage for the federation or any part thereof; and industrial arbitration.
”For the sake of our national interest, security and industrial harmony, labour should not be one of the items that should be devolved to the states,” he said.
Comrade Wabba, while explaining how it came to be on the Exclusive list, noted that the nation states legislations on Labour drives substantially from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, protocols and recommendations and other instruments domesticated through the Acts of parliament.
He added that this explained the near uniformity of labour laws across the nations of the world and relative global industrial order, harmony and an attraction for foreign investment.
The NLC president said this was in realisation of the reality that 17 days after independence in 1960 under a democratic government Nigeria fell in line by rectifying and domesticated ILO Conventions 87 and 98, guarantying the right to organise and collectively bargain.
He however said that Nigeria had since adopted all the core conventions in its capacity as a sovereign nation and regularly attends ILO organ meetings as a sovereign in line with international best practices.
The NLC president further said the reasons for Nigeria’s relative industrial growth and development, and evolution into an investor’s haven were partly attributed to its willingness to subject itself to this global order and corpus of international labour standards.
He noted that the ILO was created in 1919 by the Versailles Peace Treaty ending World War 1 along with the League of Nations to address widespread demands for social justice and improved living standards for the world’s working people.
He said that this had survived World War 2 and today served as a specialised agency of the UN dedicated to promoting labour standards globally.
”In the light of this, deregulating labour to the states will inevitably create intractable problems. At membership level, the 36 states of the federation and FCT are no sovereign which is a basis for ILO membership of Nigeria.
”Secondly, a corpus of labour legislation across the 36 states and FCT will almost certainly create a judicial nightmare.
”Thirdly, investors will be scared away as they will consider this as unnecessary addition to the already hostile operating environment. At the level of workers who often act in the national interest, this will whittle down patriotic influence.
”In the light of this, we will strongly advocate against removing labour from the Exclusive Legislative List. Not even during the military era was this contemplated,” he said.