Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have tasked the federal government to take urgent measures to domesticate the International Convention 190 seeking to end violence and harassment in the workplace.
Speaking at the ceremony to mark this year’s International Women’s Day yesterday in Abuja, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the labour movement was committed to ensuring safe work environment for all workers in the country.
Wabba, who was represented by NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emma Ugboaja, said organised labour has concluded work on the review of labour laws and would be submitting the bill to the National Assembly latest next month.
The president added that ILO Convention 190 specifically seeks to promote a work environment free from sexual harassment, discrimination and gender-based violence.
While speaking in an interview with journalists, Ugboaja explained that organised labour has finalised action on five aspects of the labour act for a review.
He listed the critical areas to include, Collective Labour Relationship Bill, Labour Standards Bill, Labour Institutions Bill, Health Safety Bill and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) bill.
“We had a retreat in Lagos last week where we deliberated on the laws and the issues of safety at place of work were also discussed. These will be part of the labour laws that will be reviewed. When we take the amendments to the National Assembly, it will be a whole package,” he said.
The ILO Convention 190 was adopted on June 21, 2019 during its Centenary celebration.
Speaking also at NLC media roundtable discussion, ILO Country Director, Dennis Zulu, said the ratification of the convention by all member countries is important because it would improve the lives of workers.
He noted that ILO members would meet in Geneva to take majority of vote required for an international instrument to be adopted.
He explained that the convention contains a range of unacceptable behaviours or practices, that result in harming workers either physically, psychologically or in terms of sexual harassment.
“This convention contains very important positions which is aimed at improving the lives of workers. The idea goes to the fact that the C190 is there to protect women, but it’s not only women, it is also there to protect the men because the man can also be harassed,” he said.
On her part, the Chair person NLC Women Commission, Comrade Mercy Okezie, described C190 as a fourth generational document, adding that the importance of its ratification is to help women appreciate and know who they are as well as be more productive at work places.
Okezie tasked the federal government on the need to speedily ratify the document, adding that it would address the high rate of violence and harassment in work places especially amongst women, despite the many laws in existence.
“C190 is all encompassing. For us to have decent work we must have decent body, decent work place and we must be treated with dignity we have to be respected. It’s not a thing men and women should keep aside,” she said.
She pointed out that it’s important for the federal government to ratify the convention because it would address gender-based harassment in the place of work.
According to her, one unique thing about the C190 is that it recognises everyone in the work place including men, women, girls, boys, workers, and interns.
“It gives us the assurance and will fix existing gaps in national legislature. We must fight together to change the rules for a better world; decent work, equal work for equal pay, there must be an end to gender-based violence,” she added.