- The Nigerian Minister of Labour and Productivity, Hassan Lawal, has threatened to shut down any industry in any part of the country that fails to meet the basic safety and health standard for workers. The Minister announced that his Ministry would make greater use of its right to conduct inspections.
Minister Lawal gave this warning in Abuja while briefing the press on the activities of the Ministry as one of the events marking the 5th anniversary of the nation's democracy, the Nigerian government said in a press statement dated yesterday.
Nigeria's federal Labour Minister stressed that his Ministry would not compromise the welfare and safety of workers in Nigeria, adding that since he assumed office, he had taken not only the welfare of staff but also their safety as one area where a lot has to be done.
The Minister stated that there is a law, which gives his Ministry the power to inspect factories all over the country to ensure that the owners of such industries comply with basic minimum safety standards, adding that this is an area he intends to "pursue vigorously".
Mr Lawal noted that a lot of workers have in recent times suffered injuries or lost their lives due to the callous attitude of some employers, assuring workers that he would soon embark on inspection of facilities in industries across the country and would "not hesitate to shut down those that fall short of required standards."
On the relationship between the country's main trade union, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and government, the Minister said both labour and government had now imbibed the "spirit of dialogue and negotiations," saying that government on its part was educating labour on its policies to foster mutual understanding, industrial peace and harmony.
Nigeria has suffered a large number of costly strikes following disagreements between the country's mighty trade unions and federal government. Most cases have had their origin in poor communication between the parties and in unilateral decisions by the government on issues that affect Nigerian workers.
Mr Lawal recognised that some policies of the present administration "may seem harsh now" but he urged Nigerians to be patient as such policies were bound to produce benefits in the long run. Nigerians at large have supported trade unions in their fight against privatisation and against cutting government subsidies, especially on oil product.
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