By Kayode Ketefe
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State
The existing maternity leave was also reviewed and increased from three months to six months with full pay. This is however only valid for the first two deliveries and the mother’s subsequent deliveries afterwards would only attract the normal leave under the old maternity leave regulation. In the same vein, paternity leave would be for the first two children, after that the father is entitled to no leave.
The paternity leave, of course is an innovation which seeks to emulate the international standards, especially the practice in the western world where the concept of work-life balance has been well-developed.
This is hardly surprising since the state has for the past one decade almost always blazed the trail on developmental issues. Accordingly, one would easily recommend this kind of initiative for emulation by other states as it is a developmental issue touching on the welfare of the people.
Having said that, I think this development makes an apt peg to interrogate the general plight of Nigerian workers.
By and large, it is very disturbing that conditions of workers in this country are still very far from what they should be. They are still a long shot from what even an average capitalist system could offer. To start with, most of our laws on labour are archaic and, what is more, even the so-called archaic provisions are poorly enforced with the resultant negative impact on the industrial sector.
Conditions of employment in many Nigerian organisations are still appalling with a good number of employers cashing in on high employment rate to shortchange workers.
Only a segment of the workforce could beat their chests for privileged membership of the “gainfully employed” club; majority of the workers are on subsistence mode, working laboriously to keep bodies and souls together.
A sizeable number of the workforce are under- employed while millions of other do not derive job satisfaction in what they do, working only for survival from pay day to pay day.
In the public sector, incessant industrial actions by the likes of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), Nigerian Medical Association, etc, are an indication that all is not well. To buttress the point, the Nigerian doctors in public employ are currently on strike.
The so-called organised private sector is even worse as many employees under multifarious contracts of employments are exploited and denied conventional workers’ rights. This is not to talk of the culture of casualisation of workers, which seems to be soaring even in the otherwise strong institutions like banks.
It is interesting to note that the practice of “corporate prostitution” thrives in our banks.
Under this practice, these financial institutions recruit delectable ladies and charge them with implicit, or in some cases explicit, directive to go after moneybags to solicit for deposits using their feminine assets as the lure.
Under the International Labour Organisation’s treaty to which Nigeria is signatory, the rights of workers, otherwise known as labour rights, include right to work no more than eight hours a day and forty hours a week, right to collectively bargain with employers, right to occupational safety and health, right not to be discriminated against, and the right to strike.
There is certainly, a lot the Federal Government can do to improve the lots of Nigerian workers, for example, paying the least paid worker a paltry N18, 000 per month under the National Minimum Wage Scheme is callous and inhuman, when everybody knows that the sum cannot even feed a child for one month!
It is instructive to note that the 1999 Constitution gives an insight into the conditions of work envisaged for Nigerian workers when in section 17 (3), it provides, inter alia, that the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that all citizens, without discrimination whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood and that the conditions of work are just and humane.
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