By Charles Akpan
Nigeria is now fully set to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 143 — Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) of 1975, and Convention 181 on Private Employment Agencies of 1997.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Yerima Peter Tarfa, stated this in Abuja, as he declared open (flagged off) a two-day national sensitization workshop on the Ratification of Conventions 143 and 181 in Nigeria.
Tarfa disclosed that Conventions 143 and 181 would promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers; and protect the workers using Private Employment Agencies (PEAs).
He said the ratification of Convention 143 would strengthen “Government’s capacity and cooperation efforts to protect migrant workers enhance remittance flow and optimize the benefits of organized labour migration in Nigeria.”
The Permanent Secretary further disclosed that Convention 143 “seeks to ensure respect for the basic human rights of migrant workers, including migrant workers in an irregular situation, and prevent irregular migration.
“Consequently, the non-ratification of Convention 143 is affecting government capacity to effectively promote good governance of organized labour migration management in the country.”
Tarfa also said that the ratification of Convention 181 would “allow the operation of Private Employment Agencies (PEAs), as well as the protection of the workers using their services, within the framework of its provisions.
“Through this Convention, the ILO seeks to assist its member States to establish clear policies, legislation and implementing mechanisms for the effective registration and licensing of PEAs.”
He added that when ratified, Convention 181 would help develop “the appropriate economic and legal environment in which all players in the private employment agencies industry follow the same rules and get an equal opportunity to operate,” and would also “curtail unfair labour practices associated with outsourcing and casualization.”
Tarfa noted that preparatory to its ratification, Nigeria had already domesticated some of the major provisions of Convention 181 into national laws and policies.
According to him, “Sections 23 — 48 and 71 of the Labour Act Cap Ll 2004 contain detail provisions on regulating operations of PEAS as required by the Convention. Furthermore, the National Employment Policy and the National Policy on Labour Migration contain detail provisions on regulation of Private Employment Agencies in line with the Convention.”
Tarfa disclosed that the workshop would acquaint participants with steps already taken by the government to incorporate the provisions of those Conventions into national labour legislations, policies and administrative guidelines.
He added that participants would also be informed of their obligations upon ratification of the Conventions, and would also be required to contribute to the rendition of the first report on the application of the conventions one year after ratification.
Speaking earlier, Director, Employment and Wages Department of the Ministry, Mr John Nyamali, noted that a sensitization workshop was a requirement for the ratification of ILO Conventions, as member States were required to consult the social partners prior to ratification of Conventions.
Nyamali disclosed that the workshop was organised to sensitize the stakeholders on the provisions of the two conventions and “the reporting obligations contained in the Constitution of the ILO.
He stated that the workshop would afford the participants the opportunity to go through the Conventions meticulously, and to anticipate actions that would be required to domesticate the provisions of the Conventions once ratified.
Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, stated that ILO remained committed to supporting the Federal Government of Nigeria in the processes involved in the ratification of the conventions, providing required expertise and resources.