By Joan Nwagwu
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said it would train 174 Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and healthcare related products on the promotion of decent work in their operations.
Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC General Secretary, said this at an ongoing three-day workshop on “Capacity Strengthening of MSMEs on Decent Work Conditions for North Central Local MSMEs”, on Friday in Abuja.
Ugboaja, represented by Mr Uche Ekwe, NLC Head of International said that the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of MSMEs in contributing to the Decent Work Agenda for the development of the country.
The workshop was organised by NLC and supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
It was aimed at creating awareness and sensitization for Decent Work Conditions for MSMEs producing PPEs across the geo-political zones in Nigeria.
“The MSMEs that are dominant operators in the informal economy are reputed to engage over 70 per cent of the working population, especially as it concerns women and youth.
“Therefore, promoting decent work conditions among the MSMEs will increase their functionality and make them contribute immensely to economic growth and development,” he said.
He however, noted that the MSMEs had contributed immensely in the struggles to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the globe.
According to Ugboaja, the programme is aimed at improving their working conditions to better position them for productivity and make them competitive.
“It will further sensitise MSMEs workers on the role of trade unions and associations and to enhance their capacity on bringing formality to the informal economy.
“The overall objective is to support the MSMEs producing PPEs and healthcare related products to place decent work at the top of the agenda of their operations,” he said.
The NLC general secretary said that at the end of the workshop, the participants would have gained knowledge on how MSMEs would improve on decent work in their operations.
He also said that the workshop enabled the MSMEs know the pillars of decent work which include labour rights, social protection, social dialogue and other critical labour market issues, and to advance formalisation.
Ugboaja added that NLC would continue to support all efforts and activities to advance decent work, to defeat fragility and build resilience and stability of MSMEs.
Also, Ms Kachollom Daju, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment said that productive employment and decent work were key to poverty reduction.
Daju said that the ILO defined decent work as “productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity’’.
She added that, increasing employment and ensuring decent work for all were essential aspects of suitable development.
Daju also said that the vulnerable or informal work seemed to be the norm in most of the developing countries with women and children being the most exposed.,
According to Daju,to survive, these people accept to work in bad conditions, at low productivity rates, in jobs with high turnover, low incomes and combine several jobs to try to make ends meet.
“This result is a high proportion of working poor in developing countries.
“The importance of the programme on strengthening the MSMEs cannot be overemphasised, considering the impact it will have on all facets of our national workforce.
“It will further create awareness and sensitise the MSMEs on the need to have a union to promote the interests of its members in the workplace,”she said.
Also, Ms Vanessa Phala, ILO Country Director to Nigeria, said the project was funded by the UN COVID-19 Response for Nigeria.
Phala said that the project was to support the capacity of MSMEs and manufacturers to meet both domestic and foreign demands..
She said that the ILO component of the project focused on capacity building in the areas of Occuptional Safety and Health(OSH), business development, financial services, and decent working conditions.
Phala also said that successful enterprises were at the centre of strong economies and societies as they create employment and raise living standards.
“This sector contributes significantly to alleviating poverty and increasing job creation.
“This means that there is a pressing need to support the MSMEs to understand the concept of decent work and incorporate same in the structure of their enterprises at all levels.
“This will increase their productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and scale up the number of decent jobs created, thereby reducing unemployment or employment poverty.
“The ILO provides added value because of its focus on both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of employment creation, ’’she said..
She said that the workshop is tailored to supporting the MSMEs to achieve and make decent working conditions the core of their operations.
Mr James Eustace, NLC Focal Person in the ILO said that the NLC would be working with 174 MSMEs that had been identified.
He said the programme would be held in three zones in the first phase.
“This is just the beginning of the story series, which is North central, next week will be South-South and Southeast while the Southwest, will be in first week in December,, all targeting the MSMEs,” he said.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani