The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has warned against any attempt to transform the National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (NISCN) into a ‘professional’ organisation.
Ngige issued the warning in an address at the 25th National Delegates’ Conference and Biennial Meeting of the Council held in Ikoyi, Lagos on Friday, November 15.
The Conference had as its theme: “Occupational Safety and Health Challenges of the Future of Work in Nigeria”.
The minister, who was represented by the Director, Occupational Safety and Health Department of the ministry, Dr (Mrs) Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, maintained that the body was created as a tripartite body to act in an advisory role.
“Let me reiterate that the role (of) the Council shall be in an advisory capacity on all matters relating its objectives,” Ngige said.
“And in furtherance of its objectives, Council is expected to always cooperate with government and indeed, all critical stakeholders.
“In this regard, any attempt to undermine the tripartite structure or to transform the Council to a professional or other organisation to suit individual whims and caprices will be frowned at, as such would undoubtedly lead to Council’s derailment from the achievement of the objectives for which it was established.”
Tracing the history of NISCN, the minister said, “It is pertinent to note that the Council was originally established as a tripartite organisation, to boost the awareness-raising and advocacy component of the ministry’s mandate in Occupational Safety and Health.
“It was established as a not-for-profit body that was being funded through membership subscriptions and government subventions.
“A constitution was drawn up in 1964 when representatives of the tripartite, i.e. employers, workers, and government met to plan the formation of the council.”
Ngige disclosed that NISCN had maintained its 1964 constitution due to stakeholders’ stiff resistance to its review and amendment.
He added, “That 1964 constitution, for all its intents and purposes, still stands to this present day, as attempts at (the) amendment of the constitution had met with very strong objections and lack of the required consensus, premised on alleged lack of recourse to due process.”
However, he stressed that a review and amendment of the constitution was imperative if NISCN must move on and forge ahead to meet with the challenges of today’s rapidly changing world of work.
The minister further stated that to achieve its set objectives, the NISCN must continue to be run based on its original tripartite-plus formation that stands on the representation of government, the social partners of employers and workers as critical stakeholders and representations of other stakeholders as listed in its constitution.