NECA flays labour minister over retrenchment in banking sector
Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has expressed dismay with
the position of Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment,
directing banks and financial institutions to suspend further
retrenchment of their workers.
NECA at the weekend also directed
banks, financial institutions and other employers of labour to ignore
the minister’s misplaced directive.
director-general of NECA, speaking against the minister’s directive,
said the labour law of the land did not empower the minister to issue
such a directive, which he considered “uninformed and populist.”
said the labour laws had envisaged redundancy situation and, therefore,
made provisions in Section 20 of the Labour Act to guide the actions of
the parties in the event of retrenchment or redundancy.
insisted that “the minister seems not to have shown understanding of
the fundamentals of industrial relations and labour laws in Nigeria and
thus, has acted ultra vires.”
NECA affirmed that no employer
would take pleasure in declaring redundant employees it had invested
significant resources in developing over the years. Usually, redundancy
exercise is foisted on employers on account of an unhealthy economy and
the dynamics of the business, which often demands staff rationalisation.
also reminded the minister that it was part of the inalienable right of
an employer to determine the optimal staff level it required to sustain
its operations. He noted that employers had rights, which include “the
right to hire and fire within the rules governing such employment
Employers’ rights are “employers’ prerogatives,” which are not subject to ministerial directives,” he said.
assured the minister that: “Where an employer has found it necessary to
carry out retrenchment, it would respect the laws of the land and the
laid down procedures for redundancy.
“Employers’ expectation from
the minister of labour and employment is that he will work hand in hand
with other government ministries in the establishment of the desired
enabling environment to ensure business sustainability, competitiveness
and job creation.”
The NECA boss advised Ngige to understand that
“the ministry of labour and employment runs on the principle of
tripartism, which entails regular interactions with trade unions,
employers and government.
“The ministry of labour and employment
is expected to respect the rights and interests of employers and workers
alike on issues that relate to labour and industrial relations.”
particularly deplored the way and manner the minister had been running
the affairs of the ministry without respect to the prerogative and
rights of enterprise as employers of labour. He recalled an earlier
directive of similar nature to the oil and gas sector, with regards to
the rights of employers in Nigeria.
According to him, “for a long
time, employers have been advocating that the ministry should be headed
by a technocrat in order to avoid the kind of disposition being
displayed by the minister, which tends towards “populism” and
“partisanship” rather than professionalism.”