The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has declared that the unemployment rate in the country is very worrisome as the association celebrates its 60 years of existence.
In his address at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and 60th Year Anniversary of NECA held at its headquarters in Lagos, the President of the association, Mr Larry Ettah, decried the high unemployment rate, and posited that though, the latest data of 12 million unemployed Nigerians by the National Bureau of Statistics, is conservative, “it is, of course, still worrisome.”
The NECA president noted that high youth unemployment goes beyond being an economic issue, but in reality, “it is also a social and security issues which could undermine the stability of the country.”
To resolve this, and given the scope of the problem, Ettah stated that Nigeria must go beyond the usual government rhetoric on “what we want to do or what we are doing,” and the unproductive administrative interventions which are not backed up with results.
Government, according to him must ensure “that we embrace a political structure and culture that will enthrone multiple centres for productive and economic activities that will boost our GDP.”
While commending the present administration for taking some good initiatives such as National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, improved access to foreign exchange for all enterprises, Executive Orders by the Acting President to remove bottlenecks at sea and air ports, relentless fight against corruption and others; he said the economy is still facing serious challenges in the areas of high interest rate and current fixed exchange rate.
President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, and the Secretary General, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Lawal, harped on the issues of minimum wage and security of job for workers.
Comrade Lawal told the private employers that presently, the issue of minimum wage is the cornerstone of everything they are doing.
He advised NECA, as umbrella body of private employers, that sacking of workers would not help both workers and employers, while casualisation would also not help it.
“NECA has to join hands and work with Labour to revive the economy, to use the wonders they have employed in making NECA strong over the years to revive the nation’s economy,” the TUC Secretary General said.
Comrade Wabba also stressed the need for labour and employers to work together to ensure that the government at all levels respect the constitution provisions on collective bargaining to guarantee industrial peace in the country.
Comrade Wabba said: “We need to continue to work together hand in hand to ensure that government at all levels respect the tenet of industrial relations which is the only way we can guarantee industrial peace and harmony in our society.”
“We will, therefore, meet at the tripartite forum and also try to agree on issues that all of us are concern about; and one of these is the issue of national minimum wage which in 2011, through elaborate process of collective bargaining, all the tripods agreed that at a circle of five years it should be reviewed to look at the reality. The fact is very clear, in 2011 when they pass the minimum wage, the value of N18,000 is almost at $120, today it is less than $46. This is the reality and today we must look at the reality, then at the negotiation table we can sort out all these realities.
“As employers you must realize that negotiation and collective bargaining is a core convention of ILO, Convention 98 and 87. We have to respect our laws.”
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