The Federal Government has commenced plans to review the labour laws to make them contemporaneous with what obtains globally and in line with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige made this known while receiving the Deputy Chief Mission of the United States in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGbbon and Labour Attaché, Carolyn Parker.
According to the Minister, the reviewed labour laws will be sent to the National Assembly for consideration and enactment.
“We are amending our laws to become contemporaneous with what obtains globally. We have done a labour law review. We will send it to the parliament. ILO is assisting us. But we are doing what we can with our own small resources,” Ngige said.
He noted that the Federal Government had done so much in the labour sector, especially in the area of occupational safety and health.
“We have an Occupational Safety and Health Department in this Ministry. The department engages in labour inspections to make sure that the working places are okay, and conform to decent work standards.
“We also have two types of insurance for workers. We have insurance against death, which is called the Group Life Insurance. We also have the Employee Compensation Act, by which a worker is insured against any accident, injuries and death that may occur in the course of work. An agency of this ministry, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) is managing it.”
Ngige said a steering committee has been set up for elimination of child trafficking and slave labour, with the secretariat domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
On the issue of child labour, Ngige said Nigeria had a child labour policy while efforts were being made to bring on board a new action plan to replace the action plan that expired in 2017 before COVID-19 interfered.
“So, we are hoping that by next year, we shall launch it. We will do so after the validation. We also have the National Steering Committee on Elimination of Child Labour and in the various 36 states. We have the state committees. You already know the child labour problems and the type of child labour issues that we have here in Nigeria.
“A lot of families depend on the number of children they have to be able to go to the farm. So it becomes difficult because of culture. Apart from farming, you have people hawking on the streets. You also have miners. In the farming areas, such as in the cash crop areas, cocoa, coffee and palm trees, palm products and even planting of sorghum and the rest of them.”
The minister said the Federal Government had gone into campaigns to let parents know that there is an age for work.
He said the government had also followed the educational enticement approach through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme, managed by Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) by which education to primary school and Junior Secondary School level is free.
He called for assistance from the United States government towards equipping the schools for technical education.
The minister added that the government had also instituted basic healthcare for children by building primary healthcare centres, one in each political ward in Nigeria.
“We think we can fight child labour — the artisanal mining, children working in cocoa plantation and the rest — but we expect the American government to help us in equipping schools. You have done it in Ivory Coast. You did in South Sudan or one of those countries. They said it when we went for AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) in 2017.”
Ngige further solicited technical and logistics assistance from the United States government as the ministry lacks enough resources to carry out its mandate.
He said the ministry needs vehicles and ICT’s, including computers and associated software to keep us on track and keep us in touch with the world.
Earlier, FitzGbbon, the Deputy Chief Mission said they came to get information from the ministry for their end of year report on what Nigeria was doing on elimination of Trafficking in Persons and Child Labour.
She said they also came to engage the ministry as well as find out the kind of aid that Nigeria needs in combating these menaces before reviewing their policy on Nigeria on the two issues.
Parker, the Labour Attaché said they want get information on how to follow up with the trainings they had in Nigeria on trafficking in persons and child labour before COVID-19 broke out.