The federal government has threatened to withdraw the operating license of any bank and telecommunication company that failed to yield to its earlier directive to stop mass sack of workers in their employ.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this while addressing world leaders at the ongoing 105th session of the International Labour Congress organised by the International Labour Congress in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ngige, who addressed journalists immediately after his speech to the ILO National Assembly, said: “We will go a step further if they continue in their current sack spree. We know what to do. After all, the banks have their licenses given by the government. We know what to do. They need to comply. They need to come to the negotiation table.
“We did that in the oil industry and we succeeded. Even if you are going to layoff, there is a way to declare redundancy, there is a process. Section 20 of the Labour Act says it. You must call the unions and discuss with them. You don’t just treat them as slaves in their own country and you want us to keep quiet.
“We want them to maintain the status quo. As far as I am the minister of labour, I will protect the interest of workers; same to the telecommunication companies, they are also talking about compiling lists without discussing with anybody.”
On the position of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) that the companies in the private sector had the sole power to hire and fire, and that the power didn’t reside in the government, Ngige said the organised private sector, represented by NECA was protecting its own members, and merely expressing its opinion.
But the minister warned that this cannot be done at the detriment of the Nigerian workers and the law of the land.
He said: “NECA is protecting the interest of the organised private sector. NECA is a leg of the tripod, and nothing stops them from having their own opinion. They are the section that protects private investors. They are employers’ body and the people I am talking to are also employers.
“It is the bank’s boards, the banks chairmen, the bank’s managing directors, that are the people I am talking to. I also talk to unions whenever the need be. In the same order, I also asked the unions not to picket the banks. They had mobilised to picket the banks. It is the job of the government to maintain a peaceful milieu on both sides and that is why I issued the directive.
“From investigation and preliminary report available to us, the banks, the insurance companies, the financial institutions are all laying off. And in some cases, they do not allow their workers to unionise, and that is wrong and against the ILO principle.”