By Amechi Obiakpu
The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has said that it has written its members to ignore the ‘illegal’ directive by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, to banks and financial institutions to suspend the retrenchment of staff in their employment.
NECA said the labour law of the land does not empower the Minister to issue such a directive which it considered uninformed and ‘populist’.
The Minister of labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige had issued a directive late last week to banks and financial institutions to stop the retrenchment of staff, following the huge numbers of sack sweeping through the financial sector.
The Minister had said the directive was against the backdrop of the present economic situation in the country.
But, NECA disagrees with the Minister. Speaking through its Director General, Olusegun Oshinowo, in a statement made available to Economy watch, he said the Labour Laws had envisaged redundancy situation and therefore, made provisions in section 20 of the Labour Act to guide the actions of the parties in the event of retrenchment or redundancy.
Oshinowo said: “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”.
According to him, “NECA affirmed that No employer will take pleasure in declaring redundant employees which it has 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”.
The DG noted that Employers’ rights are “Employers’ Prerogatives” which are not subject to Ministerial directives. He assured the Honourable Minister that 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”.
He added that: “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 NECA boss noted that it is part of the inalienable right of an employer to determine the optimal staff level it requires to sustain its operations. He noted that employers have rights, which includes “the right to hire and fire within the rules governing such employment contract”.