By Oluwafunke IsholaThe World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), say 745, 000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease occurred in 2016.WHO, in a statement from its headquarters in Geneva on Monday, said that the figure was the first global analysis of loss of lives and health associated with working long hours.“WHO and ILO estimate that in 2016, 398, 000 people died from stroke and 347, 000 from heart disease as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week.“Between Year 2000 and Year 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42 per cent and from stroke by 19 per cent,” it said.The health agency said that work-related disease burden was particularly significant in men (72 per cent of deaths occurred among males), people living in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions, and middle-aged or older workers.According to WHO, most of the deaths recorded are among people aged between 60 years and 79 years, who had worked for 55 hours or more per week between 45 years and 74 years.“With working long hours now known to be responsible for about one-third of the total estimated work-related burden of disease, it is established as the risk factor with the largest occupational disease burden.“This shifts thinking toward a relatively new and more psychosocial occupational risk factor to human health,” it said.WHO said that the study concluded that working 55 or more hours per week was associated with an estimated 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and 17 per cent higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working between 35 hours and 40 hours a week.It said that the study covered global, regional, and national levels, and was based on data from more than 2,300 surveys collected in 154 countries from 1970 to 2018.WHO said that data from 37 studies on ischemic heart disease covering more than 768,000 participants and 22 studies on stroke, covering more than 839,000 participants were synthesised.It disclosed that the number of people working long hours was increasing, and currently stands at nine per cent of the total population globally.“This trend puts even more people at risk of work-related disability and early death,” it said.WHO said that the new analysis came as the COVID-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on managing working hours.“The pandemic is accelerating developments that can feed the trend toward increased working time,” it said.The Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly changed the way many people work.“Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work.“In addition, many businesses have been forced to scale back or shut down operations to save money, and people who are still on the payroll end up working longer hours.“No job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease.“Governments, employers, and workers need to work together to agree on limits to protect the health of workers,” Ghebreyesus said.WHO advised governments to introduce, implement and enforce laws, regulations, and policies that ban mandatory overtime and ensure maximum limits on working time.It added that bipartite or collective bargaining agreements between employers and workers’ associations can arrange a working time to be more flexible, while at the same time agreeing on a maximum number of working hours.WHO advised employees to share working hours to ensure that the number of hours worked does not exceed 55 or more per week.(NAN)
Stakeholders on Friday sought the collaboration of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other organisations to end child labour in Nigeria.
The stakeholders’ request is in a communique issued after a three-day training for media professionals
on “Effective and Efficient Child Labour Reporting” and presentation of national Social Behavioural Change Communication (SBCC) Strategy for the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria (2021-2023) held in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the training was organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
They emphasised the need for inter-ministerial collaboration, funding and enhanced capacity building to aid the elimination of child labour.
The stakeholders also stressed the need for the media to project issues of child labour and put them on the front burner of regional, national and local discourse.
They agreed that “journalists must win over the professional fancy of their editors, managers and media gatekeepers in their anti-child labour reportage to ensure their stories and reporting plans are supported at the highest levels.
“Media professionals should familiarise themselves with, cite and draw strength from sister instruments from other international organisations such as the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on the Elimination of the worst forms of child labour in the fight against the menace.”
The stakeholders also urged the media to ensure that they do follow-up reports on child labour issues, as well as policy implementation that would make stakeholders to own-up to their responsibilities and ensure perpetrators were prosecuted.
“Advocacy groups should rebroadcast relevant reports from media organisations on their social media and other platforms to amplify conversations around child labour.
“Efforts must be made to get government officials to cooperate with journalists, especially when it comes to access to information and should note that response time for media enquiries have to be fast enough to match the quick pace of press work,” they noted.
NAN reports that 30 journalists, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), ECOWAS, NOA, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and ministries of mines, labour and employment, participated in the training.
Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu
Energy conglomerate, Sahara Group, has canvassed increased private sector collaboration toward optimising food value chains to address global undernourishment.
Mrs Pearl Uzokwe, Sahara Group’s Director of Governance and Sustainability, made the call in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.
Uzokwe said global undernourishment prevalence stands at 687.8 million (8.9 per cent of global population), according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) 2020 report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world.
She said the FAO report also recorded the prevalence of severe food insecurity at 746.0 million, which translates to 9.7 per cent of global population.
According to her, further review of the report shows that sub-Saharan Africa alone has severe food insecurity prevalence of 227.5 million, which is 21.3 per cent of African population.
Uzokwe said the report cited undernourishment as a measure of the insufficiency of an individual’s food consumption to provide the amount of dietary energy required to maintain a normal, active and healthy life.
She noted that food insecurity refers to limited access to food at the level of individuals or households due to lack of money or other resources.
Uzokwe said collaboration among regional and global businesses would increase investments in sustainable food and agricultural projects and create avenues for better engagement with governments and global development agencies.
She said the requirement for global healthy diet cost estimated at $3.75/person/day and $3.84/person/day makes achieving nutritious food for all a herculean task given that the cost of a healthy diet exceeds the international poverty line of $1.90 purchasing power parity (PPP) per person per day.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how much progress we can all make when businesses toe the path of collaboration.
“Addressing food security across the globe is a quest that requires urgent attention to ensure that no individual is left behind.
“Sahara Group is already witnessing how effective multi-stakeholder cooperation can be with the ongoing implementation of the Food Africa Project,” she said.
According to Uzokwe, increased investment will help to address low levels of productivity, high production risks, insufficient diversification toward more nutritious foods and lack of physical access to food markets.
She noted that collaboration would also facilitate the emergence of vibrant trade policies that will give traction to food production, improve food safety and quality standards.
“We will ultimately move the world toward robust food value chains that will enhance food storage, road infrastructure, and food preservation capacity where heart breaking losses exist for highly perishable foods,” Uzokwe added.
She said the Food Africa Project was a collaborative initiative between Sahara Group, United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals-Fund (SDG-F), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
Uzokwe said others are the International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), Roca Brothers and the Kaduna State Government and the programme was directed at empowering the people and alleviating poverty through food security.
Edited By: Peter Ejiofor)
Reactions have continued to pour in from top officials of the United Nations following the award of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme (WFP).
WFP, an agency of the global body, won the prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in conflict areas.
Chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, announced this on Friday, praising WFP for being a driving force to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was delighted by the Nobel committee’s decision, describing WFP as the “world’s first responder on the frontlines of food insecurity”.
Guterres said officials of the agency defy danger and distance to deliver “life-saving sustenance to those devastated by conflict” and to “children and families uncertain about their next meal”.
Announcing the award earlier, Reiss-Andersen said it was also a call on the international community to fund the agency adequately.
WFP is funded by voluntary contributions from UN member states and the general public, according to the UN Chief.
“Such solidarity is precisely needed now to address not only the pandemic, but other global tests of our time.
“We know that existential threats such as climate change will make the hunger crisis even worse,” he stated in a video message.
Guterres said it was unreasonable that hundreds of millions were still going to bed each night on empty stomach in a world of plenty.
Millions more are now on the precipice of famine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to him.
He congratulated the Executive Director, Mr David Beasley, and entire staff of the WFP for advancing the values of the UN everyday.
In a statement, the WFP executive director said the award had “turned the global spotlight” on the 690 million people suffering hunger globally.
Beasley said everyone of them had the right to live peacefully and without hunger, adding that climate shocks and economic pressures had further compounded their plight.
He acknowledged the support of governments, organisations and private sector partners, “whose passion for helping the hungry and vulnerable equals ours”.
In his reaction, President of the UN General Assembly, Amb. Volkan Bozkir, extended “heartfelt congratulations” to WFP for the “well-deserved” award.
Bozkir described the agency as a “critical pillar of the multilateral system, which serves as a vital lifeline for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people”.
For her part, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, Amb. Munir Juul, also congratulated WFP for the “well-deserved accomplishment.”
“In the middle of COVID-19, you have continued to scale up efforts to bring food assistance to the most vulnerable,” Juul tweeted.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation, WFP’s sister agency, said the prize “is a new engine driving the food security issue to the forefront”.
In a statement, FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, said the award also “underlined the importance of international solidarity and multilateral cooperation.”
Established in 1961, WFP is now the seventh UN agency, besides the UN itself, to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, and former Under-Secretary-General Ralph Bunche are also Nobel laureates.
Edited By: Vincent Obi
The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) on Monday commended the Federal Government and Labour for embracing social dialogue in the resolution of issues of concern, and suspension of the proposed strike.
Its Director-General, Mr Timothy Olawale, made the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
“As you are well aware, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had threatened to embark on industrial action over the government’s refusal to reverse the hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price on Sept. 28, 2020.
“However, after several engagements between labour and the government, the strike was suspended.
“This is with understanding on some issues, such as the setting up of a Technical Committee on the issue of electricity tariff reforms.
“This has always been NECA’s position that the parties should amicably resolve issues through social dialogue, especially as Nigeria is a signatory to the Fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“Also, our jurisprudence recognises dialogue in resolution of issues,” he said.
The NECA chief, however, urged government to see other stakeholders as developmental partners in the country.
He also advised that the issues should not escalate to the point of threats and conflict before social dialogue could be embraced.
“We expect that discussions on the concerns raised by the parties would be considered and a lasting solution reached, in the interest of the country.
“The two weeks period should give the parties time to discuss and arrive at an amicable resolution.
“A final resolution of these issues is expected and the involvement of other relevant stakeholders should be considered as well,” Olawale said.
This followed an agreement reached with the Federal Government at a meeting, which started at 8.30p.m on Sept. 27 and ended at 2:50a.m on Sept. 28.
After exhaustive deliberations on the issues raised by the labour unions, the meeting agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks.
Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye
Somali President Mohamed Farmajo has appointed Mohamed Roble as the country’s new prime minister to replace Ali Khaire, who was impeached by parliament in July.
Farmajo, who made the announcement, directed Roble to form a new government to lead the country through the transition period as Somalia prepares for the 2020/2021 general elections.
The president said he made the appointment of Roble on the basis of his knowledge, experience and ability to take the government initiative, building efforts and the development of national plans.
He directed Roble to make significant efforts to consolidate security gains, rebuild the armed forces and develop infrastructure.
Roble, a graduate of Somali National University in civil engineering, is an international civil servant who worked at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
In a statement after his appointment, Roble, who once worked at the University of London and lived in New York, said he will cooperate with all Somalis as he leads the delicate transition period.
“It is clear that the country is in a state of transition which requires real compromise and cooperation,” he said in his social media posts.
He expressed the hope that Somalis would support him and become part of the new political arrangement.
The appointment of Roble, a humanitarian, came shortly after a major breakthrough in the talks between Farmajo and five regional state leaders to reach a new agreement on the conduct of the 2020 to 2021 parliamentary and presidential elections.
Analysts describe the appointment of Roble, who appears non-aligned in the Somalia political landscape, as a sign of hope and a major compromise on the process to be followed in electing the incoming federal government of Somalia.
The tenure of the current parliament ends on Dec. 27; the tenure of office of President Farmajo ends on Feb. 7, 2021.
Analysts say holding the 2020 universal vote is critical to entrenching the federal system of governance, which is required to appease communities and regions complaining systematic exclusion and marginaliation for decades.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday in Abuja approved a new national policy on occupational safety and health, tagged National Policy on Occupational Safety 2020.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige revealed this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the 15th virtual meeting of the Council.
According to him, the new policy is aimed at ensuring that all workers are safe at their work places across the country.
He said the policy was derived from provisions of the Nigerian constitution and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention.
“The Federal executive Council today approved a new policy on occupational safety and health-2020. This policy is designed to make for safety and health of workers at work places.
“It derives from the main ground norm law of the 1999 constitution as amended, which in section 17 (3c) prescribes that the Nigerian State shall make laws and bye-laws for preservation of the health and well-being of workers in the work places; men and women at work.
“It also derives from the ILO convention 155, which Nigeria has also domesticated. Again, that talks about making the work place conducive and ensuring the health and well-being of workers,” he said.
Ngige noted that the last time the policy was reviewed was 14 years ago while the new one has a review period of three years.
“The last policy was approved in 2006 which makes it exactly 14 years since that was approved by the Federal Executive Council and that is the policy we have been working on.
“But you know that 14 years is a long span in the life of any law so in the course of operation, certain issues have been thrown up, the world has gone digital, work place mechanism and hazards have been changing and it was therefore necessary that we do a new policy.
“This policy we did now is what you call repeal and replace and it takes care of all that is needed for now, for the health of Nigerian workers,” he said.
The minister further explained that the new policy gives specific roles to agencies of government.
He said: “It gives specific roles to agencies, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA,) Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA,) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA,) Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Everybody has his own role now because it’s a cross-cutting situation as most Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government are involved.”
According to the minister, the new policy has a review period of three years.
On the seven-day ultimatum given by the Trade Union Congress (TUC,) which is threatening to go on strike, Ngige said the “ultimatum is already misplaced because it was addressed to the President of Nigeria, which contravenes labour laws.
“The competent authority for this nature of dispute in Nigeria resides in the man who oversees them and he is the Minister of Labour and Employment,” he said.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called on the Federal Government to provide necessary facilities to encourage compliance with COVID-19 pevention guidelines in the Universities ahead of the school reopenning.
Prof. Abdulkadir Mohammed, Acting Zonal Coordinator of the Union in charge of Kano, made the call at a news conference on Tuesday in Kano.
Mohammed said that provision of the COVID-19 safety guidelines were critical to the protection of students and staff as well as stem further spread of the pandemic.
He said: “The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country laid bare the infrastructural deficit, not only in the Universities, but other sector of education.
“This is as a result of the continuous refusal of government to heed to the ASUU calls for proper funding of the institutions, to make them globally competitive since 1992.
“Our previous agreements with the government in 1992; 2001, 2009 and 2017 NEEDs Assessment reports have all made adequate provisions for the infrastructural needs of our Universities to make them cope with the COVID-19 protocols.
“With lack of running water and electricity, overcrowded classrooms, poorly spaced hostels, libraries, laboratories and offices, non of the Universities will satisfy the requirements of social distancing.
“The Union is not averse to the reopening of public Universities, before the resumption, government must provide the necessary conditions that will make it safe for our members and the students to avoid spike in virus infections.”
Mohammed further stressed the need for the Federal Government to recommence and conclude the negotiation of the 2009 agreements based on International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) bargaining principles.
The Coordinator said the Union, however, observed with dismay, the alleged takeover of the Hospitality and Tourism Institute (former Daula Hotel) by the Kano State Government.
He noted that due process was not followed in the process.
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has assured stakeholders of its commitment to protection of rights and welfare of dockworkers as guaranteed in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Decent Work Agenda.
The Agency’s Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr Victor Ochei, disclosed this in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday, signed by Philip Kyanet, Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA,
Ochei, according to the statement, gave the assurance during a meeting of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC).
The executive director said that the meeting discussed a revised minimum wage and improved living standard for dockworkers through the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) initiative endorsed by NIMASA and NJIC in 2018.
“Dockworkers are integral to efficient and effective stevedoring operation and the NJIC has remained resolute in ensuring harmonious working relationships through the principle of tripartite and execution of Collective Bargaining Agreements on minimum standards for the dock labour industry,” he said.
He said NIMASA was determined to ensure that dockworkers got what was due to them.
Ochei said that the agency had made necessary arrangements for successful council proceedings.
He said that the success of the exercise would further demonstrate Nigeria’s compliance and commitment to the ideals of the ILO Decent Work Agenda, which sought to promote safe work, decent wage and freedom of association.
The representative of the Federal Ministry of Labour, Mrs Joyce Udoinwang, expressed the ministry’s commitment to the welfare of dockworkers, assuring of its resolve to ensure no dockworker in Nigeria was shortchanged.
Udoinwang appealed for more cooperation from all the parties involved in the tripartite agreement.
He said it had ensured industrial harmony and peace in the maritime industry.
Adeyanju disclosed that the NJIC would reconvene in the next few weeks to deliberate and agree on new wages for dockworkers.
He called for the cooperation of the terminal operators and employers of dock labour to ensure the attainment of the Decent Work Agenda.
“So far so good, the terminal operators and employers of dock labour are doing their best, but so much can still be done to better the welfare of their workers,” Adeyanju said.
Also speaking, Mr Kunle Folarin, representative of the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), applauded NIMASA for its role over the years to promote peace and harmonious labour relations in the industry.
Folarin said NJIC would cooperate with the agency to sustain peace and sanity at the ports.
Other members of the NJIC at the meeting include the representative of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mr Charles Okaga, and President of National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC), Mr Bolaji Sunmola.
Both assured of their support toward improved welfare for seafarers.
The CBA was for a two-year period and intended to ensure industrial peace in the maritime industry.
It involved requirements for the fair treatment of dockworkers principally, making sure every employee got an employment letter and a package of terminal benefits when their contract expired.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma (NAN)
Oxfam, an International NGO has called on the Federal Government to build various support networks, financial regulatory framework to safeguard the livelihood of young people in the country.
Mr Constant Tchona, the Director of Oxfam in Nigeria made the call at a webinar on Tuesday in commemoration of the International Youth Day with the theme: “Youth Engagement for Global Action”.
The webinar organised by Oxfam in Nigeria in collaboration with youth NGOs was geared toward sustainable community development.
Tchona, who emphasised the need for priority interventions to safeguard the livelihood of young people, create resilience and social safety further called on the government to create financial literacy education and innovative systems for the youth.
He said that globally Aug. 12 was set aside annually to celebrate young people, their struggles, impact, collective prosperity and prospects.
“To celebrate this year’s event, Oxfam in Nigeria and the Nigeria Youth SDGs teamed up to celebrate young policy makers, social leaders and social entrepreneurs making a difference across Nigeria toward sustainable community development.
“With the global theme being “Youth Engagement for Global Action” and explore mediums to engage youth from the local level to the global level; there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a serious challenge.
“lt has also presented an opportunity, notably for young people in Nigeria to develop innovative solutions; adopt creative mechanism and rebrand to meet the numerous needs which have helped placed their communities ahead of the curve, improving processes and providing lifesaving systems, “he said.
Mr Dino Correll, the Youth Employment Analyst at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) called for an “urgent large scale policy responses to protect the employment prospects of young.’’
Correll said that such responses would ensure that human and labour rights were protected amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Director of the United Nations Information (UNIC) Center Dr Ronald Kayanja said “Young people are a great asset if engaged and supported by creating the conditions that allow them progress and play active role.
According to him, this is when we will be able to achieve peace, security, climate resilience and sustainable development for all.
Similarly, Zainab Haruna, Programme Director, Step Up Nigeria at the panel discussion said that youth needed to have more collaboration and coalitions rather than trying to do it all alone.
Edited By: Grace Yussuf (NAN)