Business Labour Matters

FG cautions employers against slave labour practices

By Appolos Christian

The Federal Govern­ment has in strong terms condemned the practice and working conditions that connotes subjecting Nigerian work­ers to slave labour.

Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), recently expressed government’s displeasure in Abuja when the Buhari Supporters’ Club (BSC), led by Lauretta Onochie, presented its con­tribution to the proposed Review of Nigeria’s Labour Laws.

According to a statement by the Ministry’s Deputy Director/Head of Press, Mr Charles Akpan, Keyamo went on to cautioned em­ployers of labour in Nigeria, especially foreign nationals against maltreating work­ers, subjecting them to ap­palling working conditions, and punishing them for minor offences and under flimsy excuses.

According to him, “Ni­geria is not a breeding ground for slaves. Nigerian workers are not slaves to be subjected to horrendous conditions and exploited. Employers of labour should not cash in on the vulner­ability of unemployed Nige­rians desperate for employ­ment.”

He however reveled that under the proposed Review of Labour Laws, govern­ment would put in place laws that guard against em­ployers of labour subject­ing employees to inhumane treatments that take away their safety and dignity.

He disclosed that laws on safety at work, child labour and others would be com­prehensively explored in the process of reviewing the labour laws, noting that the international community is concerned about child la­bour.

Keyamo observed that many labour laws in opera­tion have not been properly protecting workers in Ni­geria, and needed to be re­viewed, adding that the di­rective by President Buhari for that review was borne out of his concern about the plight of Nigerian workers.

He stated that the Min­istry, in collaboration with its social partners, as part of the review process, had called for memoranda from the public aimed at facilitat­ing and enriching the pro­cess.

According to him, a lot of memos had come in and the Ministry, the social part­ners and other stakeholders “would soon commence the process of sieving through and compartmentalizing those memos.”

He further stated that gov­ernment had also come up with many schemes to boost the socio-economic well-being of those on the lower rung of the social ladder, employed and unemployed alike, and the they include a job creation strategy known as Public Works Scheme, to be carried out in five local government areas each in eight pilot states.

Keyamo noted that un­der the scheme, which had already taken off in Bornu State, 1,000 beneficiaries per local goveernment would engage in community work peculiar to their locality and would be paid N20,000.00 a month for three months. The payment would be expected to serve as seed money for the beneficiaries to set up micro enterprises.

Speaking earlier, leader of the Buhari Supporters’ Club, Lauretta Onochie, said the group came to pres­ent its contribution to the process of the review of the nation’s Labour Laws.

She said the group inves­tigated how foreign em­ployers of labour treat their Nigerian work force, and described the condition under which those workers operate as unpalatable, un­fair, and un-dignifying.

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