The Director-General, International Labour Organisation, Gilbert Houngbo, has called for a global momentum to strengthen sustainability in order to reduce poverty and social injustice.
In a latest report to commemorate the World Day for Social Justice titled ‘The world needs a strong and sustained dose of social justice’, he said the impact of COVID-19 combined with geopolitical turmoil, economic crisis, and natural disasters has pushed social progress backwards.
He said, “When we look at the current labour market trends the picture is grim, and global employment growth will be only 1.0 per cent in 2023, less than half the level of 2022.
“More than 200 million workers live in absolute poverty, especially the small and micro-enterprises, have been hit hard.”
According to him, what the world needs now is a strong and sustained dose of social justice which is key to fair and peaceful societies.
He added, “To promote decent work, the International Labour Organisation aims to launch in 2023 a Global Coalition for Social Justice.”
Meanwhile, the President of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Akeem Ambali, noted that there was a huge lacuna in structural policies governing this aspect.
He said, “I am a professional social worker, so I understand the importance of social welfare policy and social legislation in today’s development of any community. Why we are having all these challenges and tensions is because Nigeria lacks the appropriate social welfare legislation and social welfare policies.”
Nigeria as a government is used to an unorganised approach to the issue of social justice, social welfare, and social legislation.”
He explained that social justice as it concerns workers must have a social security plan, adding that workers as members of vulnerable groups must be captured within the social network that will take care of both welfare policies in terms of appropriate remuneration.
He stated that the national minimum wage law must be implemented.
He added, “Workers must enjoy a commensurate pay for their work. Workers’ social justice must cover issues of pension and gratuity payments. What we are witnessing presently is that state actors and employers of labour deliberately breached the provision of labour Act with impunity without any repercussion, that is why when workers contributions or pensions are deducted is neither properly remitted to the pension fund administrator or probably invested into an income yielding venture or are appropriately not paid.
“To make the matter worse the employers of labour that are supposed to collaborate and pay their own share which is 10 per cent have defaulted and there is no enforcement law or agency to ensure that they pay for these illegal acts.
“Our belief is that the Pension Commission should be strengthened and they must have the political courage to prosecute defaulters of contributory pension deduction remittance.”
Ambali emphasised on the importance of looking into the Factory and Industrial Act, covering workers protection in the industrial environment, saying that it would guarantee a very appropriate working environment devoid of pollution, industrial hazards, and industrial accidents.
He said, “In a case where there is an industrial accident, commensurate and appropriate compensation must be paid to the family of that worker that is deceased or disabled. Furthermore, under social welfare policy, the government must have a deliberate social welfare policy that will ensure corporate social responsibility.
“Every conglomerate or industry that is situated within a local area must look internally within its environment or community to employ 70 per cent of the junior staff and about 35 per cent of senior staff, essentially this would create employment and opportunity for the indigenes situated in those areas. It will give a sense of ownership and allow gross domestic product growth within that community, because the gross domestic product of every local government cumulatively accounts for the national domestic growth.
“The issue of illegal dismissal, abuse of work, rape, sexual abuse must be frowned at, and anybody found guilty should be properly prosecuted, so that we can safeguard the integrity of women workers at the world of work.”
In the same vein, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adetunji Oyeyipo, said the issue of social justice and equity affects the health of the nation, because it promotes peace, and when there is peace, therefore, the country would prosper.
He added, “You cannot prosper in an atmosphere of acrimony and dissatisfaction with what is happening.
“The issue of social justice is very important. I know that most governments do not look at it as important, it is as important as making money for the government, if not more important. It is only when there is an atmosphere of peace and fair play that you can have a country really growing.”