The Federal Government has announced that it has started plans to review the present labour laws of the country to boost it in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, in a meeting with the Deputy Chief Mission of the United States in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon, and Labour Attaché, Carolyn Parker.
Ngige said that Nigeria was amending her labour laws to global standards and the review would be sent to the National Assembly.
- “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.
- “We have 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 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.”
The Minister stated that a steering committee was set up by the FG in partnership with the Ministry of Labour to look into issues of child trafficking and slave labour.
He added that the FG already had a child labour policy and working on an action plan on child labour to replace the previous one which expired in 2017.
- “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.”
He added that in the areas of child labour laws, children working in mines and plantations would be protected and that the FG required USA’s help in equipping schools and also technical and logistics assistance.
- “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.”
What you should know
In 2019, the US Department of Labour said that Nigeria had made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
- “Children engage in the worst forms of child labour, including in quarrying granite, artisan mining, commercial sexual exploitation, and armed conflict, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking. The Child’s Right Act has only been adopted by 25 out of Nigeria’s 36 states, leaving the remaining 11 states in northern Nigeria with legal statutes that do not meet international standards for the prohibition of child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and illicit activities,” it said.