By Aderogba George

The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has called for consideration of industrial relations department in all government agencies and private organisations.

The call was made on Monday in Abuja at the opening session of the 14th NANNM labour/induction workshop for labour unions of Federal Health Institutions sector (FHIS), across the federation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop, which would last for four days, has the theme: “Building grassroots leadership capacity for managing modern trade unions in Nigeria”.

Mr AbdullahiYahaya, a former Chairman, NANNM-FCT, said that the industrial relations department would serve as a mediator between government, management and employees.

Yahaya, who is also a former Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), FCT-council, said industrial relations, if properly harnessed and used, would avert industrial crisis.

He said such department in most organisations in Nigeria, was lacking, adding that with such department on ground, strikes and lockouts seen in work places would vanish.

“Unfortunately in  many of our ministries, we don’t have that department, this department is supposed to be headed by a director, the function of the department is to interact with leaders of industrial union, labour leaders in the organisation.

“This department will be the one to set agenda for peaceful negotiation, workers by nature will definitely have demands from their employers being it promotion, wages, hours of work, equipment for work.

“These are  issues that will always come up between the two parties.

The department of industrial relations is that middlemen that looks at the issues the workers are demanding and bring it up to the management.

 “So there should be a deliberate effort by factories, ministries and hospitals to have this department that will solely be responsible for labour issues and nip them in the bud to avert crisis,” he said.

Mrs Francisca Okafor, Director, Nursing Services, Federal Ministry of Health, expressed happiness about the workshop and the success of the election that brought the labour leaders to power in their various organisations.

According to her, the labour leaders from the FHIS are starting well as the workshop will arm them with what they need and the kind of leadership they should exhibit for unionism.

She said that unionism was not to be quiet, unionism represented a professional group before the government, before the management, adding that they had come, armed with the needed tools for trade union.

Okafor urged the labour leaders to see themselves as serving in the place of Christ, the divine physician and the ultimate healer, irrespective of their belief.

“God has called us to be able to minister to people who are less privileged, this must be done in a conducive environment; we chose this profession in love to be able to minister well for government and to give us the support.

“This is why I am happy that this people  are starting on a good note with the workshop, on how to negotiate better, to reach out, advise government and improve the working environment,” she stressed.

Dr Farouk Abubakar, Secretary General/Registrar, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) called on the participants to be attentive to every details at the workshop, to make them  sound leaders.

Abubakar who was represented by Yahaya Sumi, Director, Special duties in NMCN, said that nurses did not only work in the hospital, they should be able to also manage issues in their environment.

Dr Ngozi Osunde, the former National Secretary of Forum, FHIS, and a Senior Lecturer in the nursing department, Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, urged the labour leaders to use the knowledge from the workshop wisely.

Osunde who is also the chairman of the occasion, advised the union leaders to always carry their members along in whatever agreement reached with the employers, to achieve their aims.

Deborah Yusuf, Chairman, NANNM FCT-Council, who spoke on the theme, called on the inducted union leaders to always adopt the instrument of collective bargaining with management/employers.

According to her, collective bargaining strengthens and settles a lot of things, and that they must always put themselves in order before any negotiation.

Earlier, Chairman of FHIS, Nurse Morakinyo-Olajide Rilwan, decried the incessant assault on its members by patients, their relations and other health workers while discharging their duties.

He recommended that issues of assaults at the workplace should be handled with stringent measures and equal representation of people involved.

Rilwan said that any attempt to intimidate or unduly suppress its members shall henceforth no longer be accepted. (NAN)

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