Abuja (Federal Ministry of Labour Report) – The Supervising Minister of Labour and Productivity, Kabiru Turaki while intervening in the on-going strike embarked upon by health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) has initiated a conciliatory meeting of all stakeholders charged with the resolution of contending issues of the interest to concerned parties.
The Press and Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Labour & Productivity in its monthly review of activities for November 2014 published on Tuesday December 9, 2014 revealed that during the meeting which held lately in Abuja, the Supervising Minister called on JOHESU to suspend the strike, in order to safeguard the health of Nigerians.
The report further indicated that the strike commenced in the Federal Health Institutions and Agencies with States and Local Governments slated to join them a week after; noting that although there was no written agreement between the Federal Government and JOHESU as it was done for the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in the sector on January 1, 2014, the right to have the demand considered was conceded to members of JOHESU. Adding, on the basis of acceptance by both parties, agreement would be entered into and implementation process specified.
“In considering the above decisions, the parties noted that time was of essence, concluding that other issues in dispute would be considered in subsequent meetings. JOHESU promised to suspend the action after the meeting of its National Executive Council and to follow due process in addressing the issue in dispute,” the report stated.
Discussing on other activities engaged by the Ministry during the period under review, the Publicity Department of the Ministry informed that the Minister urged trade unions and other stakeholders in the labour sector to shun adversarial trade unionism and embrace social dialogue as a viable mechanism for ensuring industrial harmony and sustainable national development. It added that the Minister made the appeal in Abuja while declaring open a two-day 2nd Registrar of Trade Unions Annual Workshop on the current challenges and prospects of trade union administration in Nigeria.
According to the report, the Minister cautioned that adversary trade unionism is no longer fashionable worldwide, indicating that incessant lock-outs and strikes hardly produce long-lasting solutions to trade disputes compared to round-table negotiations which often achieve progressive results in the interest of the workforce. The Supervising Minister also stressed the need to embrace collective bargaining; saying the direction of trade unionism worldwide is focusing on conciliation, arbitration and adjudication which trade unions may pursue at the levels of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and the National Industrial Court (NIC) as may be applicable.
“Kabiru Turaki noted that there are still many focused and patriotic Nigerian workers; adding that President Goodluck Jonathan being a labour – friendly leader has the interest of Nigerian workers at heart. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Clement Illoh at the occasion noted that the importance of the workshop was on the mandate of the Ministry to maintain and promote industrial peace and harmony achievable through the existence of vibrant trade unions in Nigeria,” the report said.
“Social partners in the labour sector were enjoined by the communiqué issued at the end of the workshop to imbibe and practice the sacrosanct principles of collective bargaining as cardinal machinery for effective governance between labour and management.”
The Publicity Department also informed that during the workshop, the 200 participants in attendance resolved that in recognition of the distinction between dispute of right and dispute of interest, issues bordering on dispute of interest should first be made subjects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Adding, this should be respected by all parties to reduce the incidence and prevalence of trade disputes in general and promote social dialogue towards the resolution of conflicts among social partners.
They said that despite the challenges associated with social dialogue such as intimidation, oppression and coercion, collective bargaining which was the basic machinery defining the relationship between management and works on the terms and conditions of employment should be continuously strengthened in view of its immense benefit to sustained industrial harmony in Nigeria. They indicated that in response to the dynamic nature of industrial relations and its wider implications, the participants called for strengthening of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to enable it perform its statutory functions and deliver effective services to social partners.
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