AJAOKUTA – (Labour & Employment Ministry Report) – The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Stephen Ocheni (Prof) 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 during his symbolic workplace inspection of some selected workplaces in Ajaokuta to mark his visit to the West African Ceramics, BN Ceramics and Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State recently. He also noted that the government of President Buhari is poised to grow and develop the private sector, indicating that its economic policies are designed to be all inclusive, in order to carry the private sector along.
“Private sector development is a key factor in the economic development of Nigeria, that is why President Buhari has embarked on an all – inclusive economic policy under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The policy emphasises the need to carry along the private sector, since private sector development programmes are very key in the execution of the economic policy of the Federal Government,” the Minister revealed.
“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 Director of Occupational Safety and Health in the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Ifeoma Anyanwutaku (Dr) in her opening remarks stated that the symbolic workforce inspection is the statutory function of the Ministry of Labour and Employment towards ensuring industrial peace and harmony in the country as contained in the Labour Laws and Factory Acts.
According to her, the inspection exercise is not a fault – finding exercise, but an effort which aims at advising both the employer of labour and the employees on the best labour practices in labour administration. She iterated that the essence is to nip in the bud matters which would have escalated into industrial crises and which the present administration frowns at.
In his welcome speech, the Chairman of West African Ceramics Industries Limited, Lawal Idirisu inferred that his company is made up of 750 permanent staff and 250 outsourced workers. She added that the outsourced staff would gradually be absorbed into the system based on the availability of vacancies.
While highlighting the operations and achievements of his organisation, he presented a checklist of all efforts made by the company to promote worker’s welfare and safety. The Chairman further mentioned that his company has organised an in-house workshop on health, indicating that it is in the process of training about fifty workers on occupational safety and health in the next two weeks.
On his part, the Managing Director / CEO of BN Ceramics Industry Limited, Liu Yangxi espoused that some of the challenges the factory is facing is on the issues of multiple taxation, duties and tariffs on imported spares, imported raw materials and above all, the condition of logistics in moving products to the Nigerian market. He therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to help to reduce some of the challenges.
While speaking on a facility tour of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, the Sole Administrator of the Company, Abdul Akaba Ismaila (Engr) averred that optimum productivity has to be 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 balance productivity with a conducive working environment for all.