The House of Reps on Tuesday 12th set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate, monitor and liaise with corporate institutions, with a view to possible interventions to reduce the wage burden on such organisations. However, the move made by the Green Chamber is aimed at protecting workers from compulsory leave and job losses.
The current global pandemic, COVID-19, ravaging the world’s population has posed great stress to economies of the world. This has resulted in large global jobs loss. Nigeria is not left out as many private organizations have laid off their staff or issued them with compulsory leave. Nigerian workers from the private sector are overwhelmed with panic over this development. The Central Bank of Nigeria recently made effort to ensure that the problem is nipped in the bud.
The resolution of the House followed the passage of a motion by a member, Henry Nwawuba, titled: “Urgent Need to Protect Nigerian Workers from Compulsory Leave and Massive Job Losses.”
The lawmaker in moving the motion said: “The House notes that the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly challenging the stability of corporate organisations and governments and ravaging the world and has no doubt distorted global socio-economic ecosystems.
“Also notes that protection and support for the organised and informal private sector workers under this unfortunate lockdown is necessary for both continued economic and social development of Nigeria.
“Aware that a large number of Nigerian workers are being employed by the organised private sector and big corporate organisations as well as the informal sector and medium scale industries with little or no job security, and those workers have no other benefits like the regular civil servants, as provided in the Labour Act.
“Also aware that most of the workers have been working from home since the lockdown without asking for extra pay or gratuity. However, some banks and institutions have started asking their workers to proceed on compulsory leave.”
Furthermore, the lawmaker expressed concern that there are indications that after the coronavirus crisis, most employers may not be willing or able to take decision not to terminate a large number of their employees judging by perception from economic and corporate data, largely due to the unforeseen and unexpected COVID-19 outbreak.
He said that he was “disturbed by the unusual circumstance of negative threat of mass sack of workers, which definitely will be devastating to citizens; and this will be consequent on several weeks of economic and business paralysis occasioned by the lockdown, which has stretched the organisations and corporate businesses.”
The lawmaker pointed out that some organisations are beginning to buckle under the weight of the wage burden they may be carrying without corresponding productivity and necessary support from the government.
Nwawuba said if the needful is not done as quickly as possible to bolster key sectors through Federal Government economic packages in terms of income support, tax credits or tax deferrals, short-term work schemes, wage subsidies and tax moratoriums on loan payments for those organisations, unimaginable mass job losses loom in the country, and this can lead to a great distortion in the economic growth graph of the nation.
He expressed worry that policy actions are yet to be taken to reduce the socio-economic impact of the pandemic through the establishment of a Job Retention Scheme for COVID-19 Pandemic, where governments commit to saving jobs by ensuring that workers are not laid off, as obtainable in other climes.
The motion was passed and referred to the House Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity for further action.