The Federal Government has disclosed plans to upgrade the Industrial Arbitration Panel to a commission.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige revealed this in his office while receiving Federal Arbitrators from the IAP who paid him a courtesy visit on Friday.
Ngige, who praised the arbitrators for discharging their duties creditably, revealed that the proposed commission would operate with its bureaucracy, noting that the IAP, which came into existence 40 years ago, gave birth to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
According to him, it was because of IAP that the Federal Government decided that there should be a gradation of the labour law to establish the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Ngige said, “As at today, the hierarchy of industrial dispute resolution is that we should start here if the people decide to come here to report. We can put up a Tribunal. We can put up a Board of Inquiry if strike has occurred. If we cannot resolve the dispute here, we then go up to the IAP. If they are not satisfied with the IAP, then they go up to the NICN.
“So, it is the same ladder stepwise formation for the normal disputes. If it is interpersonal, it is State High Court/ Federal High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
“More importantly, I want to inform you that in the Labour Law review, which the ILO asked us to do, the IAP is targeted as one of the places we will review, to make it a permanent commission.”
According to a statement on Sunday by the spokesman, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, titled, ‘Labour disputes: Industrial Arbitration Panel to be upgraded to commission- FG,’ Ngige invited the Arbitrators to join the ministry during the validation to make their input, saying “we may think that we have done everything, but you may point out one or two things not done.”
He assured the arbitrators that the Federal Government would continue to support them in human resources and capacity building and terms of material resources.
Regarding the two arbitrators who died in active service, Arbitrators Samuel Peter and Inuwa Hassan, Ngige said his ministry would include them in the National Productivity Merit Award list for posthumous awards.