The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with support from the European Union (EU), through the “Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa” Project is holding a national consultation meeting on the draft Directive on Harmonisation of the Labour Laws in the ECOWAS Region, Wednesday 22 May 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Directive on the Harmonisation of Labour Laws in the ECOWAS Region aims to achieve the much needed harmonisation framework while respecting the diversity of legal cultures, systems of working relations, areas of regulation and practices existing within ECOWAS.
During the one-day national consultation meeting, stakeholders of labour in Nigeria will be sensitised through sharing of best practices on the harmonisation of labour laws. They will also discuss the contents of the Draft Directive and make inputs and recommendations.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, the Commissioner Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission represented by Dr. Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, the Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission highlighted that the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS in Article 61(b) made provisions for Member States to harmonize their labour laws and social security legislations for the purposes of effective integration and social development of the region.
She stressed that the harmonisation of the legislations is not about unifying the laws but making the laws more or less similar. Adding that the region will benefit immensely from the harmonised labour laws as it is at the heart of the regional integration process of ECOWAS
Senator Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in his keynote address which was read by Mr. Dani Neburagho, the Director, Productivity and Labour Standards in the Ministry expressed the need for consistency and coherence in the labour administration system in the region. This he said is critical for the integration and governance of labour relations systems.
Similarly, in his speech, Mr. Benson Upah, the Representative of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) President said he believed that true cooperation and integration are necessary for a united West Africa, hence the need for harmonised labour laws and social security legislations to protect workers in the region irrespective of their origins.
The representatives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Mr. Dennis Zulu and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Thompson Akpabio in their goodwill messages commended ECOWAS for this initiative, saying that the intervention is quite timely, a step in the right direction and an important development for the region.