The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has urged employers of labour and Labour unions to pay greater attention to the formalization of workers across the federation, warning that unemployment and indecent jobs are huge incubators of national insecurity.
Senator Ngige made the call while addressing a joint visit by the leaders of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) today in Abuja.
Ngige Said, “insecurity as you rightly pointed out is caused by people who feel cheated by the society. They carry arms, weapons to vent their anger on the elites. So, the elites in Nigeria are in danger, including me, all of us. Hence, the sooner we start talking to elites in employer organizations like yours (IPMAN) the better. So we can curb this malady and prevent it from escalating.
“When you referred to the nexus between job vulnerability and insecurity, you hit the nail on the head. A lot of insecurity problems we have today is caused by unemployment and underemployment. In underemployment, people are not making up to the National Minimum Wage or working up to 8 hours a week which is the ILO standard for full employment. There is a lot danger if we fail to effectively tackle this. But we are doing our best.”
The Minister commended IPMAN for putting its house in order and for being thoughtful of the lots of workers in its employ through decent jobs and formalization.
“The good news here is that workers you seek to formalize are in the informal sector. You intend to do micro pension for them and bring decency to their work. Of course, the ILO principles of decent work enjoin member states to do stage by stage formalization of the informal sector. But I must tell you that it is very difficult here, because a lot of workers in our informal sector are not in unions. They are not unionized. IPMAN has therefore taken the bull by the horn.
“Here, we are talking of pump dispensers, cashiers, others doing mechanical work like vulcanizers, those doing wheel balancing and alignment among others. They are informal but with them being captured and formalized gradually, the nation is aligning with the ILO decent work agenda, requiring all nations to work towards the total actualization by 2030. I therefore commend IPMAN for this good step forward.”
The Minister however reminded IPMAN that formalizing these workers comes with an attendant burden of compliance with the payment of the N30, 000 National Minimum Wage.
“You must comply with the National Minimum Wage of N30, 000 for each of those persons dispensing fuel, those who are doing allied works there. The Minimum Wage Act gives a number of persons in an organization that draws such an organization into the Act. It is 25 or so. Any place you have more than 25 persons, the Act says you must formalize . It is in your own interest and in the interest of the workers too.”
Ngige used the opportunity to call on all private school proprietors in the country to formalize the teachers in their employ and pay them decent wage.
“I use the instance of your effort and this visit, to call on private school proprietors to come forward and formalize their teachers. Those teachers are neither formalized, protected, nor have pension. As a matter of fact, their salaries at times are below the Minimum Wage and that is wrong. In these schools, you see people earning N20, 000, N25,000 yet they are teachers. You ask yourself; what is the quality of teaching and the quality of pupils, students therefrom?
In his speech, the National President of IPMAN, Elder Chinedu Okonkwo said their visit was to seek the collaboration of the Ministry of Labour in keying into the Federal Government’s Micro Pension Plan for millions of workers in its employ, hence the place of the National Pension Commission in the visit.
“We want to get the drivers, depot representatives and other ancillary workers enrolled into this scheme so as to add value to their welfare and enhance the status of their employment. If achieved, it will help the country curb insecurity, reduce restiveness through creation of wealth and its reductive effect on poverty.”
The Director General of the National Pension Commission was represented by Dauda Ahmed, a director in the commission during the visit.