Labour to partner with government on ILO Convention domestication

Helen Shok Jok. Abuja

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba

The Organised Labour in Nigeria has promised to work with the Nigerian Government and other social partners in the country towards domesticating the new International Labour Organisation ILO Convention and Declaration, which was adopted in the just concluded International Labour Conference ILC, in Geneva Switzerland.

Speaking exclusively to Voice of Nigeria in Abuja, President of the Nigeria labour Congress NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the Convention is coming at a time when the world is facing a great magnitude all manners of injustices in the world of work.

A new Convention and accompanying recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the world of work was adopted by the ILO at the 108th ILC which held from 10th to 21st June 2019.

The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 were adopted by delegates on the final day of the Centenary of ILO

The standard covers violence and harassment occurring in the workplace. This include places where a worker is paid, takes a rest or meal break or uses sanitary, washing or changing facilities; during work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities.

Others are work-related communications including through information and communication technologies in employer provided accommodation; and when commuting to and from work. It also recognises that violence and harassment may involve third parties.

Comrade Ayuba Wabba analysing the conference, said it was packed full with rich activities which the over 180 member States of the ILO benefited from.

“Well, I think the 108th of the International Labour Conference, as well as the centenary celebration of the International Labour Organisation, was well organized, it was full of activities and I think some milestones were actually achieved.

“At the end of the conference, we are all aware, in fact because the address of the DG, at the closing session, he said over 6,500 delegates participated, we had over 35 Presidents and Head of government attending which is unprecedented and speaking to the plenary, and in most cases appreciating the work that the International Labour Organisation has been able to do from 1919 to date especially addressing the issues of inequality, social justice and bringing about peace through social justice.

“It was unprecedented also because of the fact that we have two important instruments.

“For the last eleven years, a Convention has not been passed by the International Labour Organisation, but here we are, at the celebration of the 108th ILC and the centenary of the ILO, we have gotten a Convention and a Recommendation to supplement the Convention” Wabba said.

This he said was unanimously adopted through a voting system at the end of the session adding that the Convention is aimed at ending violence and harassment in the world of work.

Nigeria, he said has not been short of issues and reports of discrimination in the work place which sometimes results in violence or harassment.

“In the context of Nigeria, you know this has been an issue particularly violence against gender.

“We have seen minors even being raped, and therefore, this is certainly an international standard that will address this issue in the world of work.

“In fact what is remaining now is for countries, because on that Friday the DG and the President of the ILC signed the document, and therefore, officially that Convention is in force.

“What is remaining now is for member countries, to domesticate by actually adopting the Convention and we will be working towards that here at home to actually also domesticate the Convention” he said.

On the participation of the Nigerian delegates to the conference, the labour leader who also doubles as the President of the International trade Union Confederation ITUC believes that every Nigerian delegate to the conference has reason to be proud.

“We had very good sessions where our members particularly those from organised labour and particularly those from the labour extraction were able to meet up the 50/50 percent gender representation this year.

“In fact, NLC insisted because it was a decision of the ITUC, it was a decision of the Governing Board of the International Labour Conference, so we have tried the best we could because we should not only be saying without acting it.

“So NLC for the first time, we ensured that our delegation to the ILC is 50/50 and you could see our women participated so effectively and their contributions so recognized and it was a landmark achievement that they participated, they understand the issues and they were part of history by coming up with this Convention and a recommendation.

“Not only that, our delegations were fixed into committees, from the Committee for the Application of Standard where we have spoken on many cases to the issue of the side meetings and the side events but importantly also the Committee of the whole that came up with the centenary declaration”, the NLC President said.

Wabba is proud that the conference has further built the capacity of members of the labour family especially women.

“I think it’s something we have added to the body of our members because now they are more knowledgeable, they will better defend the interest of Nigerian workers, because not only that they Knowledgeable, they are also better equipped and that is the whole essence of the ILO.

“ILO has this supervisory mechanism where labour laws have international application, because we cannot limit it to the desire of countries to come up with labour laws .

“Just as you regulate finance around the world, you have the Borld Bank, you have the IMF, we also have the ILO and which is even the first UN agency.

“In the whole UN system the ILO is the first agency and therefore is of importance that we also respect those conventions, we respect those laws especially those laws have proven over time to address issues of inequality and issues of social justice because without social justice you cannot have peace and that is why we have said clearly that going forward into the next century, is actually looking at how to make decent work the corner stone of bringing about peace and social justice”.

He stated that if people are not engaged or not employed or working in precarious conditions, they will naturally act in manners that will  compromise  the issues of peace, “so clearly speaking, I can say that we have played our role very effectively and if we see the voting,  we voted in all the issues and those are the documents that are already available and I can say that am happy, am very delighted that we didn’t just waste our money to go on jamboree.

“Our delegation went well prepared and they were able to actually deliver and most of the committees they are in the syndicate groups and their contributions and voices have been heard particularly those that actually gave themselves to learning in the process of the ILO”, Wabba said.

On the Convention coming into effect after 12 months after 2 States would have signed into it law, Wabba explained that it is about its domestication.

“As it is now, it’s already a Convention but the process of making sure that we are able to give effect to it, countries around the world must actually domesticate it.

“It just like any other international law, once Laws and Conventions are passed, we must bring it back home, domesticate it, get the required sizeable number, give it effect and make it to be effective.

“All countries have given commitment to go and work as a tripartite and to see how they are able to domesticate those Conventions and importantly its ratification, countries need to ratify.

“The member countries of ILO close to 180 need to give effect to it clearly I don’t think its left hanging for this period, no its expected that we should also play our role and we should be able to ratify those conventions.

“The process of ratification means it would be cleaned up and then forwarded to legal agencies of government because its something also government, both our parliament have been working on, the issue of gender based violence actually assume a very alarming dimension even a bill is pending at the National Assembly to address this challenge, so this has a global perspective and therefore every country around the world will then actually conform to this very important standard because some of the definitions that possibly our laws are deficient in it, has been strengthened in those laws and that would compliment whatever we have at home.”