As FEC approves new policy on occupational safety
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, on Wednesday, faulted the Trade Union Congress, TUC, on the seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to revert to the old prices of petrol and electricity tariff, if not the union will embark on strike.
Senator Ngige said that the ultimatum was misplaced as according to him, it was addressed to the President of Nigerian, which he said contravened labour laws.
This is as the FederalExecutive Council, FEC, has approved a new national policy on occupational safety and health, tagged National Policy on Occupational Safety 2020.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the virtual FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister contended that the President that the letter was routed to was not recognized by the International Labour Organization, ILO, law.
He said, “The TUC issue, the seven-day ultimatum was misplaced because they were writing the President and issuing an ultimatum to him. The President is not recognised by ILO.
“The competent authority for this nature of the dispute in Nigeria resides in the man who oversees them, which is whoever is the Minister of Labour and Employment.”
On the new national policy on occupational safety and health, the Minister said it was aimed at ensuring that all workers are safe at their workplaces across the country and that it was derived from provisions of the Nigerian constitution and the International Labour Organisations, ILO, convention.
According to him, “The Federal Executive Council today (Wednesday) approved a new policy on occupational safety and health-2020. This policy is designed to make for the safety and health of workers at workplaces.
“It derives from the main ground norm law of the 1999 constitution as amended, which in section 17 (3c) prescribes that the Nigerian State shall make laws and bye-laws for the preservation of the health and well-being of workers in the workplaces; men and women at work.
“It also derives from the ILO convention 155, which Nigeria has also domesticated. Again, that talks about making the workplace conducive and ensuring the health and well-being of workers.”
He explained that the last time the policy was reviewed was fourteen years ago, adding that the new one has a review period of three years.
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He said, “The last policy we have was approved in 2006 which makes it exactly 14 years since that was approved by the Federal Executive Council and that is the policy we have been working on. But you know that 14 years is a long span in the life of any law so in the course of operation, certain issues have been thrown up, the world has gone digital, workplace mechanism and hazards have been changing and it was, therefore, necessary that we do a new policy.
“This policy we did now is what you call to repeal and replace and it takes care of all that is needed for now, for the health of Nigerian workers.”
Senator Ngige further explained that the new policy gives specific roles to agencies of government.
He said: “It gives specific roles to agencies, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA,) Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA,) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA,) Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Everybody has his own role now because it’s a cross-cutting situation as most Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government are involved.”