Nigeria charges ECOWAS Ministers of Labour on Social Dialogue

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

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Ministers in charge of Labour and Employment in ECOWAS region have met in Abuja to consider the Report of the Labour and Employment Experts and the General Assembly of the ECOWAS Social Dialogue Forum.

The Experts meeting and General Assembly held from Tuesday to Thursday and was preceded by the Ministerial meeting on Friday.

Addressing the gathering, the Permanent Secretary, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr William Alo, called on the leadership in ECOWAS to muster the political will to adopt all the recommendations by the Experts.

He said that the sub-region needed renewed commitment and passion to drive the tenets of Decent Work and other labour policies.

“We cannot continue to be paying lip service to issues of labour administration in the sub-region.

“The time has come for us to make a radical departure from the past if we are to bequeath onto future generation an ECOWAS sub-region that prides itself in the attainment of the tenets of decent work.

“I therefore appeal to all of us to demonstrate renewed commitment and passion in the implementation of these programmes to engender integration in the sub-region especially in the area of labour administration,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary pledged the continued support of Nigeria to the ECOWAS Commission in its determination in addressing knotty employment and labour issues in the sub-region.

According to him: “The Government and people of Nigeria, as an integral part of the ECOWAS, will not shirk in our responsibilities in that direction.

“We will continue to support the ECOWAS Commission in its unabated determination to holistically address knotty employment issue in the sun-region.

“It is my hope and expectation that this meeting will approve all the proposals presented by the General Assembly and thereafter go back home to transform them into programmes of action so as to deepen decent work in the sub-region,” Alo said.

In an opening remark, the Minister of Labour and Employment of Niger Republic, Mohamed Bin Omar, who also was the Chairman of the Session, stated that the recommendations of the General Assembly Meeting would strengthen social dialogue in the region.

He said that the tripartite arrangement of the ECOWAS Dialogue Forum, was to allow for quick conflict resolution and also allow for peace.

While expressing the hope that the recommendations by that General Assembly will enhance social dialogue in ECOWAS countries, Mr Bin Omar, believes that the Ministerial meeting will solidify the outcome of the Expert/ General Assembly meeting.

In a message, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kassi Brou, said that ECOWAS has come a long way since the adoption of the region’s labour and employment policy in 2009, and called on the Ministers to consolidate on the achievement with the adoption of the Report before them.

Represented by the Commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission, Dr Siga Fatima Jagne, Mr Brou said the meeting was for Labour experts to submit their priorities and recommendations for the attention of the Ministers of Labour and Employment.

He stated that the Social Dialogue Forum, which preceded the Ministers’ Meeting, had deliberated, revised, validated and adopted the Directive on Minimum Standards towards Harmonization of Labour Laws in the ECOWAS Region, and ECOWAS Regional Program for Decent Work (DWRP).

“The two documents will be the key frameworks that ECOWAS and Member States can apply to achieve the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work adopted by the Conference at the 108th Session held in June, 2019.

“It will specifically address the challenges to shape a fair, inclusive and secure future of work with full, productive and freely chosen employment and decent work for all,” she said.

She urged the Ministers to adopt the text that would be presented to them and all the recommendations therein to enable the ECOWAS Commission put in place regional mechanisms to facilitate and enhance the social integration of citizens in the Community and create conditions for decent and regulated jobs at Member States’ level without xenophobia and other forms of discrimination.

Also speaking, Regional Director of ILO, Dr Dennis Zulu, urged the Ministers to take advantage of the Forum to ensure that decent work was guaranteed for citizens of the sub-region.

The Meeting of Labour Experts/General Assembly of ECOWAS Social Dialogue Forum, which held from 16th – 18th July in Abuja was convened to review, validate and adopt key policy texts on labour and employment and build consensus on topical issues, amongst others.

Omolayo.A