ILO says technology new threat to industrial harmony

By Joan Nwagwu

Abuja – The International Labour Organisation (ILO), says the growing level of technological advancement is a threat to the organisation’s efforts at ensuring industrial harmony in the world.

Mr Dennis Zulu, ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.

Zulu said that technology was fast replacing workers in most parts of the world.

He said it was time for the world body to start looking for ways of ensuring that workers were not denied their rights by employers and also ensure the employers get the maximum benefit from their workers.

According to him, ILO is conscious of the fact that with the advancement in technology, some workers may have to work from home, while banking sector is fast replacing some workers with ATM and internet banking.

“One of the things that we are saying which will be very evident in the future is that the relationship that we know today between an employer and employee will change because of technology.

‘’As well as demographic trends, and other developmental indices, like people working from home.

“So, the question is how we respond to those issues, in terms of the protection of workers’ right.

“If you are a worker working from home with no direct interaction with the employer, how do we ensure that either party is happy with the relationship.

“We really have to look forward and prepare ourselves for the changes that will happen. As you can see already, in a number of countries, banks are laying off their employees because of technology.

“How do we support member states to ensure that these workers who lose their jobs get their rights?

‘’How do we ensure that we prepare the young ones as they go into acquiring education that will equip them for the future?

“So as the world of work evolves, we can only do much in ensuring that the four strategies which made up decent works are met,” Zulu said.

He noted that the four strategies for decent work include: protecting rights, ensuring equitable access to employment opportunities for both men and women, and ensuring that social protection are available to all workers.

‘’Lastly and importantly, is the concept of social dialogue in the discussion between employees and employers as far as they agreed to what sort of relationships that they should have.

“It is a huge task and it will take just the ILO or its social partners in Nigeria or the government to achieve a perfect world of work. But we can only strive to do as much as we can.

“Like I said, it is a growing problem especially, the growing rate of unemployment, child labour problem and in some cases, increased levels of discrimination of persons with disabilities, women workers, among others.

“We need to work on those specific issues if we are going to ensure that we meet our aspirations and this can only be done collectively.

‘’We need to look at the law, for instance you know that in Nigeria, law making takes a bit of time.

“I think it is important to work toward a new legislation that will actually reflect the times in bringing into bear the new trends in the world of work.

‘’And it is only then can we guarantee the protection of workers’ right in the country.

“That is the only way we also can guarantee that the interest of the employers in the private sector is also protected,’’ he said. (NAN)

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