The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, has described as uninformed and populist, the directive by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige for banks and financial institutions in the country to suspend further retrenchment of workers, stressing that the Minister acted “ultra vires”.
The Director-General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo, who made this assertion at the weekend, argued that Nigeria’s labour law did not empower the Minister to issue such a directive, noting that the labour laws had envisaged redundancy or retrenchment situation, hence the provision of Section 20 of the Labour Act to guide actions of the parties in such instance.
According to him, “The Minister seems not to have shown understanding of the fundamentals of industrial relations and labour laws in Nigeria and thus, has acted ultra vires.
“Employers have rights, which include the right to hire and fire within the rules governing such employment contract and are employers’ prerogatives, which are not subject to ministerial directives.
“Where an employer has found it necessary to carry out retrenchment, it would respect the laws of the land and the laid down procedures for redundancy.
“Employers’ expectation from the Minister of labour and employment is that he will work hand in hand with other government ministries in the establishment of the desired enabling environment to ensure business sustainability, competitiveness and job creation.
“The Ministry of labour and employment is expected to respect the rights and interests of employers and workers alike on issues that relate to labour and industrial relations.
“For a long time, employers have been advocating that the Ministry should be headed by a technocrat in order to avoid the kind of disposition being displayed by the Minister, which tends towards populism and partisanship rather than professionalism.
“No employer would take pleasure in declaring redundant employees it had invested significant resources in developing over the years. Usually, redundancy exercise is foisted on employers on account of an unhealthy economy and the dynamics of the business, which often demands staff rationalisation.”