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May Day: Expert tasks labour on disability inclusive collective bargaining

Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment

Lagos, May 1, 2021(NAN)

A disability expert, Mr Razak Adekoya, on Saturday tasked the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to factor in disability inclusive bargaining in its negotiations with employers of labour.

Adekoya disclosed this in a statement to mark Workers Day.

According to him, May 1st is usually celebrated as the International Workers’ Day across the globe including Nigeria.

He said, however, that since the celebration began in Nigeria in 1981, the labour movement had not made any significant pronouncement on the inclusion of people with disability in the labour market and the potential of their contribution to the nation’s economy.

“In the past three decades, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has used different bargaining tactics to make their demands from different tiers of government with issues of salary increment review negotiations being the popular one.

“Evidently, disability-inclusive collective bargaining has never come to the fore and never been considered for adults with disability within the labour market. Perhaps, this is not perceived as a concern,” Adekoya said.

Citing the case of People With Disabilities (PWDs) on wheel chair, Adekoya said that they “incur disability extra cost” to get to their places of work unlike their colleagues without disability.

Also citing a 2011 WHO report, Adekoya said that about 15 per cent of all developing countries like Nigeria have their population to be people with disability.

“In Nigeria, it is estimated that there are about 30 million PWDs and between 12-15 million among this population are still active and within the labour market age range.

“Unemployment rate among PWDs is about 64 per cent and there are still large attitudinal barriers like discrimination and stereotypes against disabled persons.

” Inability of government to make adequate disability inclusive legislation and economic empowerment programs have largely contributed to more than 80 per cent of PWDs living in abject poverty,” Adekoya said.

The expert said that,in spite of these realities, many PWDs, who were fortunate to be educated, went through hell before been employed

He noted that the government, being the largest employers of PWDs had never considered the disability extra cost in determining the take home for employee with disability.

“They have never also considered it as a component of the basic allowances that should be included for a staff with disability.

“The worst is that the Nigerian Labour Congress, who ought to fight for the voiceless and marginalised employee with disability, have never seen this as an issue, yet many expect PWDs working with lesser savings power to work at peak performance.

He listed some disability extra cost to include, higher cost of transport, huge data for the hearing impaired to attend virtual meetings, paying for a sign language interpreter for the hearing impaired and the frequent changing of assistive device for the hearing aid of the deaf.

He said that through the inclusion project implemented by a disability development organisation – Sightsavers, there had been an increased attention on disability inclusion by giant private sector companies in Nigeria who want to be more disability inclusive post COVID-19 recovery.

The expert urged the federal government to consider the following recommendations to boost disability inclusion in the workplace.

” Make it a mandatory provision for certain percentage of an employee’s salary as a disability extra cost allowance the employee with disability should earn.

“Initiate an incentive to support and encourage the private sector company to hire disabled persons such that takes the burden of disability extra cost away from the extra cost allowance the employee with disability should earn.

” Strengthen the nation’s social protection system to create a separate national disability grant scheme which takes cognisance of disability extra cost in cash, kind and in service.

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