The Honourable Minister of State Labour and Employment, Professor Stephen Ocheni has said that the present administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari attaches importance to the development and growth of the private sector and welfare of workers in the country.
He made this known recently on symbolic workplace inspection in some selected workplaces in Ajaokuta, Kogi State when he visited the West African Ceramics, BN Ceramics and the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
He said the government of President Buhari embraces the growth and development of the private sector and the economic policies are designed to be all inclusive to carry along the private sector.
“private sector development is a key factor in the economic development of Nigeria that is why President Buhari has embarked on all inclusive economic policy under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plans (ERGP). The policy emphasises the need to carry along the private sector. Since the private sector development is very key programme in the execution of the economic policy of the Federal government” the Minister said.
“This Symbolic Factory inspection is designed to ensure that the minimum standards spelt out in the relevant labour Acts and Factory Acts are complied with to ensure that workers have their desired welfare, health and safety and the essence is for us to have improved performance and productivity. This cannot be attained without a healthy workforce. When you have a healthy workforce of course you can expect the attainment of the goal of the organisation which is improved output. Welfare of workers is paramount and minimum standards must be attained” the Minister added.
The Director, Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. (Mrs.) Ifeoma Anyanwutaku in her opening remarks stated that the symbolic workforce inspection is the statutory function of the Ministry of Labour and Employment to ensure industrial peace and harmony in the country as contained in the Labour Laws and Factory Acts.
The inspection exercise is not a fault finding exercise but aimed at advising both the employer of labour and the employees on the best labour practices in labour administration. The essence is to nip in the bud matters which would have escalated into industrial crises which the present administration frowns at.
In his welcome speech, the Chairman, West African Ceramics Industries Limited, Honourable Lawal Idirisu stated that his company is made up of 750 permanent staff and 250 outsourced workers. According to him the outsourced staff would gradually be absorbed into the system based on viability of vacancies.
He highlighted the operations and achievements of his organisation and gave a check list of all efforts made by the company to promote worker’s welfare and safety. According to the Chairman, his company has organised in-house workshop on health and is in the process of training about 5o workers on occupational safety and health in the next two weeks
On the other hand the Managing Director/CEO BN Ceramics Industry Limited, Mr Liu Yangxi, stated that some of the challenges the factory is facing is over bearing issues of multiple taxation, duties and tariffs on imported spares, imported raw materials above all the condition of logistics of moving products to the Nigerian market, therefore appealing to the Federal Government to help reduce some of the challenges.
While on a facility tour of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, the Sole Administrator Engr. Abdul Akaba Ismaila said that optimum productivity is assured, because without workers welfare and safety, the employer will not have the benefit of maximum output hence the essence of workplace inspection is to strike a balance of a conducive working environment for all.