…As labour demands refund of NHIS
By Bimbola Oyesola
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has warned State governors against reducing workers working hours and salary.
The Minister’s warning was sequel to the protracted industrial crisis involving the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nasarawa State Government.
A statement issued by the Deputy Director in the Ministry, Mr. Samuel Olowokere, which quoted the Minister, said the warning was necessary to restore industrial harmony and forestall breakdown of law and order.
The Minister said the step was pursuant to the powers vested on him by section 5(1) and (2) of the Trade Dispute Act, Laws of Nigeria, 2004.
Ngige said the intervention of the Ministry was predicated on a letter written to him by Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State to help resolve the labour crisis.
“Sequel to this, I hereby direct the unions to suspend the proposed picketing of government offices and further demonstrations.
I enjoin all parties to maintain status quo pending the outcome of the meeting intended to resolve the issues in dispute.
Ngige said the issue of arbitrary reduction in the number of working hours hours was against the International Labour Organisation (ILO) regulation; Convention 1, which had been adopted and domesticated by Nigeria, stating that the law prescribes eight hours of work in a day and not more than 40 hours in a week.
Meanwhile, Organised Labour has tasked the new management of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to facilitate the refund of workers’ N90 million contributions to the scheme.
President of TUC, Mr. Bobboi Bala Kaıgama, said the Congress would not forget to remind the scheme of the contributions made by workers in the past, before it was taken over by Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).
“This should be revisited and investigated so as to return the money back to the union”, he said.
Kaigama, however pledged the workers support to the new NHIS Executive Secretary, Professor Usman Yusuf, adding that, this was in order to ensure proper care of employees at workplace.