Senator initiates bill on estblishment of labour institutions
A new bill aimed at establishing labour institutions in the country has been initiated in the National Assembly.
The bill entitled ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the National Commission for Conciliation and Arbitration, National Labour Council, and Office of the Registrar of Trade Unions, among others is to administer the Provisions of Labour Laws in Nigeria’, seeks to ensure that labour matters are swiftly resolved.
Senator Suleiman Nazif (APC Bauchi North), who sponsored the bill, in his lead debate, said the objective of the bill was to create labour institutions that were independent, impartial, flexible, simple and functional in a bid to forestall industrial disagreements.
He further explained that the proposal if passed into law, would also administer the provisions of all labour laws in Nigeria as it affects freedom of association, industrial relations, working conditions, health and occupational safety.
He said the bill would promote the prevention, containment and speedy resolution of labour disputes in the country.
Nazif added that the greatest challenge of the present dispute settlement system was that the entire process from negotiation, conciliation up to arbitration was domiciled in, activated by and operated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
He stressed that the bill would critically address poor relationship that existed between employers and employees in the country where trade dispute in the country was governed by the provisions of the trade disputes Act Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
He said: “The National Commission for Conciliation and Arbitration proposed under this bill will provide a unique opportunity for Nigeria to join the rest of the world in inculcating international best practices in labour dispute resolutions.
“This Bill before us today, will tremendously position the country’s work environment for maximum productivity. It will also end decades of workers oppression and abuse by extension this legislation will compel employers of labour to conform to the provisions of International Labour Organization (ILO).
“The substance behind this unbiased piece of legislation is to guide labour activities from all ramifications, in addition, boost service and productivity and also reposition the country as a nation that values its workforce,” he said
He observed that in most developed countries like Australia where they have Australian Industrial Relations Commissions and in South Africa where they established the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in 1995 to resolve problems of inequality and unfair labour practices that characterized the apartheid era, had commissions outside the traditional court system to regulate and administer dispute settlement mechanisms in all facets of their economy be it commercial, industrial or labour relations.
Contributing to the bill, Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South) noted that there was no way any country would be conducive enough for flow of investment without a stable labour organization that could determine the civil rights and obligations of citizens.
“Section 39 is very clear on this matter and it confers rights on citizens of this country where in the sense in the determination of their civil rights and obligation it shall be done by a court or tribunal that is constituted in such a manner as to secure its independent and impartiality,” he said
In his remark, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, commended the sponsor of the bill, noting that it was timely and appropriate because the existing laws were obsolete and not in conformity with the economy and the environment.
“We need to amend this bill and appropriate to bring in line especially the focus in creating the right business partner where they must have the right labour relations.”
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