The need for Nigeria to amend and streamline its labour laws to meet best global practices for peaceful industrial relations has been stressed.
The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the call while granting audience to the state council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) when they paid him a courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who identified collective bargaining as the nucleus of trade unions, said the Nigerian labour laws should be amended to make collective agreements enforceable as obtainable elsewhere in other climes.
The Deputy Governor, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Doubara Atasi, applauded the state council of the NLC for making dialogue and collective bargaining as its tools while pressing for workers’ entitlements and benefits.
His words: “Our labour laws are too slippery in terms of enforcement of collective agreements. I am one of those who believe our labour laws have to be amended, so that once there is a collective agreement, there is no need to go to anybody for it to enforceable.
“Our labour laws at present make collective agreements unenforceable, by making them subject to the whims and caprices of the Minister of Labour, which is a negation of the freedom of negotiation.
“In other climes, once a collective agreement is reached, it becomes enforceable. The soul of labour is collective bargaining; without collective bargaining, labour unions end up as social clubs. In fact, what makes trade unions what they are is the principle of collective bargaining.”
According to the Deputy Governor, the present administration in Bayelsa State neither believes in what he called ‘locking horns with labour in fight,’ nor suppression of the interest of organized labour.
He noted that the prevailing industrial harmony in the state was due to effective cooperation between government and labour to ensure mutual benefit for both parties as well as the overall development of the state.
The Deputy Governor, who expressed appreciation to the NLC for their understanding so far, assured the state council of government’s continued support for their programmes and events.
Earlier, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Barnabas Simon, said the visit to the Deputy Governor was to formally introduce the new NLC state executive council, which was inaugurated in April this year.
Comrade Barnabas, who thanked the state government for rolling out palliatives for local government workers without any agitation or negotiation, appealed to government to extend the laudable gesture to workers in the mainstream civil service.
In a related development, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has assured the leadership of the Bayelsa State wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) of being carried along in the scheme of things.
Addressing the executives of the NUT at a meeting in Creek Haven, Yenagoa, he assured that the Governor Diri-led administration would make deliberate efforts to tackle challenges confronting teachers and non-teaching staff in the state..
The Deputy Governor, however, strongly condemned the untoward behaviour of some teachers from Ekeremor Local Government Area during a recent restraining programme in Yenagoa and urged teachers to always conduct themselves as role models.
On his part, the State NUT chairman, Comrade Richman Otobo, acknowledged the labour friendly disposition of the present administration but appealed for expeditious handling of issues bordering on teachers welfare in the state.
The state Secretary of NUT, Mr. Johnson Hector and the chairman, All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools, ANCOPSS, Bayelsa Chapter, Mr. Court Ogboseri Enebibodo, were among those who made contributions at the meeting.