The Edo State government has commenced the digital registration of all workers across the 18 local government areas of the state.
Governor Godwin Obaseki confirmed this on Saturday when he received members of Edo State Civil Service Commission led by the chairman, Mrs Ekiuwa Inneh, at the Government House in Benin City, the state capital.
“We have sent Information Communications Technology (ICT) experts to scan all your documents into a digital format.
“We have started the process of digitally registering every staff member in public and civil service in Edo,” he told his visitors.
The governor added, “With this, every civil servant will have a unique e-identity stored digitally for ease of identification. Beyond accountability to the people, we want to now account for productivity in their various workplaces.”
According to him, he won the governorship election held in September 2020 because of the hope that the government would deliver services to the people.
Governor Obaseki, therefore, stressed that the priority of his administration was to deliver good services to the people.
“I don’t see any politician going back to campaign to the people of Esan in Edo without evidence to show that you have made provision for water to the people; we have no place anymore, the civil service just has to deliver good services to the public,” he said.
In her remarks, Mrs Inneh promised the governor that the civil service commission would contribute its quota in transforming the state’s public and civil service.
“I want to assure you that we will key into your transformation agenda for the civil service; you have recognised the fact that the civil service has to be empowered,” she said.
No fewer than 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease as a result of long working hours were recorded in 2016.
Latest estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) showed that the death figure represented an increase of 29 per cent since 2000.
These estimates were contained in a study titled “Global, regional, and national burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours for 194 countries, 2000–2016: A systematic analysis from the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury.”
The study comes as the COVID-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on managing working hours, and accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time.
‘No Job Is Worth The Risk’
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, believes the pandemic has significantly changed the way many people work, noting that teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work.
He said, “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.”
In her reaction, WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, Dr Maria Neira, warned that Working 55 hours or more per week was a serious health hazard.
She, therefore, called on governments, employers, and employees to wake up to the fact that long working hours could lead to premature death.
According to the analysis published in Environment International on Monday, WHO and ILO broke down the figure which revealed that 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart disease in 2016 as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week.
This indicates that between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease and stroke due to working long hours increased by 42 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.
Ban Mandatory Overtime
“This work-related disease burden is 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.
“Most of the deaths recorded were among people dying aged 60-79 years, who had worked for 55 hours or more per week between the ages of 45 and 74 years,” part of an article published on WHO’s website read.
It added, “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 towards a relatively new and more psychosocial occupational risk factor to human health.”
Working 55 or more hours per week rather than to work 35-40 hours a week, the study concludes, is associated with an estimated 35 per cent higher risk of a stroke and a 17 per cent higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.
It noted that the number of people working long hours was increasing and stood at nine per cent of the total population globally – a trend that puts even more people at risk of work-related disability and early death.
On ways to tackle the alarming death trend, WHO and ILO advised governments to introduce, implement and enforce laws, regulations, and policies that ban mandatory overtime and ensure maximum limits on working time.
They also suggested bipartite or collective bargaining agreements between employers and workers’ associations that could arrange a working time to be more flexible, while at the same time agreeing on a maximum number of working hours.
Employees were also advised to share working hours to ensure that number of hours worked does not climb above 55 or more per week.
While noting that workers are in a ‘very sorry situation’, Wabba said some state governments do not see the welfare of their workers as a priority.
On the minimum wage, the labour leader threatened a shutdown in states where governors are yet to implement the policy.
He added, “Today, more than one-third of the states are not paying. Some actually implemented for Levels 1-6. It is only about lack of resources, it is about whether they are committed to workers’ welfare.
“If not, how can a state like Rivers be talking about workers’ welfare up till now. This is the real issue. Those governors that are good, are not in the same category.
Wabba’s remarks come few hours after the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, faulted governors yet to pay the new minimum wage to workers in their states.
Ngige who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, said that any employer paying its employee below N30,000 was doing so in contravention of the law.
“If you read the Act well, you will see the applicability of the Act. The applicability is that all parts of the Federation (Section II); Section III also says N30,000 shall be paid, the operating word is shall.
“It does not give room for picking and choosing, it is a must. The state governors that are not paying are breaching the law of the land,” the minister said.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019 into law on April 18, 2019.
Dr Yemi-Esan affirmed a reduction in the number of reported cases of COVID-19 but stressed that the downward trend needed to be maintained, hence the need for the extension of the work-from-home directive.
He also emphasised the need for all public servants to continue to ensure strict compliance with the existing guidelines on the prevention of a further spread of the disease.
The Head of Service appealed to all Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers in various ministries to bring the content of the circular to all concerned and ensure strict compliance.
More Cases, New Deaths
The directive came at a time when the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said 464 new infections were reported in various parts of the country on Wednesday.
In an early-morning tweet on Thursday, the health agency stated that the new cases were recorded in 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Of the states, Lagos was the only place where cases above the 100 mark were reported – 131, followed by Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, and Imo where 69, 33, and 31 more infections were reported.
Other states were Katsina – 30, Kano – 26, Ondo – 23, Yobe – 20, FCT – 18, Ogun – 13, Rivers – 12, Kebbi – 11, Ekiti – nine, Osun – six, Oyo – six, Borno – five, Gombe – five, Plateau – five, Edo – four. Abia – three, Delta – three, and Zamfara – one.
The NCDC which is responsible for the management of disease outbreaks in the country noted that 16 more fatalities were reported on Wednesday, raising the death toll from the disease to 1,939.
Nigeria has a total of 156,963 confirmed cases with 135,831 cases discharged and 19,212 active cases out of the 1,544,008 samples tested so far as of 9am on March 4, 2021.
The ongoing National Identity Number (NIN) registration appears to be running into more troubled waters, as Nigerians who have turned up for the exercise have been left unattended at various registration centres.
This is because workers at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) have embarked on strike across the country.
Some of the agency’s offices monitored by Channels Television on Thursday included Lagos, Abuja, Bauchi, and Taraba, among other states.
At the NIMC office located on the premises of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) office in Alausa, Lagos, hundreds of residents were seen as early as 8am.
However, the workers there refused to attend to the applicants, saying they were on strike to demand better welfare packages from the Federal Government.
One of the workers told Channels Television that the recent increase in the number of visitors at their office for registration of NIN had caused a lot of stress for them.
Apart from the demand for allowance, he said the government does not care about their safety as saying they could get infected with COVID-19 as they attend to hundreds of residents daily without protective kits.
In the nation’s capital, Abuja, the staff also complained about inadequate work equipment to protect them from Covid-19 and poor salary structure, among others.
They claimed that some of their members have contracted the disease and were neglected by the management of the agency.
The workers were also worried about the continuous breach of the Covid-19 protocols, considering the large crowds that show up for registration daily.
They vowed to continue the industrial actions until the issues raised were addressed by the relevant authorities.
The situation was also the same in Bauchi Stated where the staff of NIMC joined their counterparts in other parts of the country to down tools.
According to them, the refusal to work is in compliance with a directive following notice of strike issued by the NIMC Unit of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The NIN applicants in Bauchi were locked outside the gate of the NIMC office as staff of the agency withdrew their services.
Some of the workers who were seen on the NIMC premises stated that their demands for improved welfare, promotion, and provision of personal protective equipment, among others have been a long drawn issue.
In Taraba, the workers also complained about the poor condition of service, especially regarding their protection against COVID-19 infection.
Noting that essential duty staff and first responders were excluded from the directive, he urged all the public servants to stay safe and keep adhering to all COVID-19 protocols in order to rid the state of the pandemic in the shortest possible time.
Governor Sanwo-Olu’s directive was contained in a circular issued by the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, to members of the State Executive Council and all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Sunday.
The circular entitled “Re: Stemming the Tide of the Second Wave Of COVID-19 Pandemic” also stated that the Year 2021 First Work Day Prayer Session for all public servants in Lagos State would be held virtually on Monday.
Sequel to Head of Service Circular Ref. No: CIR/HOS/’20/Vol.1/139 of 18th December 2020 on stemming the tide of the second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the state, it is hereby notified for general information that Mr Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has further directed all State Public Servants on Grade Levels 14 and below to continue working from home till Monday, 18th January 2021.
Expectedly, the directive excludes Essential Duty Staff, as well as First Responders.
Furthermore, while wishing all staff, a prosperous and fulfilling year, please be informed that the Y2021 First Work Day Prayer Session for all Public Servants in Lagos State shall be held in line with tradition on Monday 4th January 2020.
However, in keeping with COVID-19 Protocols, the session shall be held via zoom and streamed live on Facebook.
In addition, all public servants are enjoined to stay safe and to keep adhering to all COVID-19 protocols in order to rid the state of the pandemic in the shortest possible time.
All heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies are urged to note the contents of this circular for compliance and give it the deserved Service-wide publicity.
The Lagos State government has directed all public servants to resume work, seven months after the workers were directed to work from home as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.
Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the Head of Service in the state, issued the directive in a circular obtained by Channels Television on Saturday.
He noted that the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, gave the approval for resumption of all public servants, especially those on salary grade levels 1 – 12 who have been working from home since March.
The circular with reference number CIR/HOS/20/Vol.1/115 and dated October 30, 2020, asked the government workers to resume on Monday.
Muri-Okunola explained that the approval of the governor followed the advisories and recommendations of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the State Ministry of Health.
He, however, asked the accounting officers to maintain attendance duty roster and ensure strict compliance with all COVID-19 protocols in the workplace, thereby ensuring physical distancing in respective Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
Those copied in the circular included the deputy governor, speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, the chief judge, and the secretary to the state government.
Also copied were the chief of staff to the governor, commissioners, permanent secretaries, and chairman of the Civil Service Commission, among others.
Read the full statement below:
RE: FURTHER EASING OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
Sequel to the informed recommendation of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the State Ministry of Health advisory on same, it is hereby notified for general information that Mr Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has approved that all Public Servants on Salary Grade Levels 1 – 12, who were direct to work from home since March 2020 resume at the Office with effect from Monday, November 2, 2020.
Furthermore, in order to ensure physical distancing in respective MDAs, Accounting Officers are to maintain Attendance Duty Roster and ensure strict compliance with all COVID-19 protocols in the workplace.
All Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies are to note the content of this circular for compliance and give it the service-wide publicity it deserves.
Workers at factories in Belarus answered opposition calls for fresh strikes on Monday after a historic weekend protest over President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed re-election brought tens of thousands to the streets.
In footage widely shared on social media, Lukashenko was confronted by workers at the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) who shouted him down with chants of “Leave!” as he tried to give a speech.
A visibly angry Lukashenko walked off the stage, saying: “Thank you, I have said everything. You can shout ‘Leave’.”
Pressure has been building on the ex-Soviet nation’s longtime leader since the August 9 election, which he claims to have won with 80 percent of the vote.
In the biggest demonstration to date, more than 100,000 people took part in a “March for Freedom” in Minsk on Sunday following calls from main opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya for continued demonstrations.
A brutal police crackdown on post-election protests has drawn widespread condemnation and appears to have turned even Lukashenko’s support base at state-owned industries against him.
European Union leaders are to hold an emergency video summit on Belarus on Wednesday, EU Council President Charles Michel announced, while Germany said it was prepared to back an expansion of previously announced sanctions.
Hundreds of workers and protesters gathered outside the MZKT plant where Lukashenko was visiting, waving the red-and-white flag of the opposition and demanding his resignation.
Workers at the Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ) also told AFP that several thousand staff had walked off the job.
After flying in by helicopter, Lukashenko told workers he would not give in to calls for a new election.
“You will never expect me to do something under pressure,” he was quoted as saying by his press service. “If anyone is unwilling to work and wants to leave, no one will harass you, do as you please, the door is open.”
Demonstrators also gathered outside the Minsk headquarters of state television, where some staff were reported to have joined the strikes.
“I know how scared you are, because we are all scared. Thank you for overcoming your fear and joining the majority,” Maria Kolesnikova, a senior opposition leader, told the protesters.
Workers of potash producer Belaruskali have also said they may go on strike, according to independent local news site tut.by. Potash, used to make fertiliser, is a major source of income for Belarus, which is one of the largest producers in the world.
– Tikhanovskaya ‘ready’ to lead –
Lukashenko has defied calls to stand down after the August 9 election that saw him imprison his closest rivals, shun independent observers and unleash a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters who said he fabricated ballot results.
The opposition called for a general strike after hundreds of workers at state-run factories first downed tools last week in a sign that Lukashenko’s traditional support base was turning against him.
In a video posted online Monday, Tikhanovskaya said that although she never planned to enter politics she was prepared to take over the country’s leadership.
“Fate decreed that I’d find myself on the frontline of a confrontation against arbitrary rule and injustice,” Tikhanovskaya said in exile in Lithuania.
“I am ready to take responsibility and act as a national leader during this period.”
Tikhanovskaya has demanded the authorities release all detainees, remove security forces from the streets and open criminal cases against those who ordered the crackdown.
She has also said she will organise new elections if Lukashenko steps down.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, is facing an unprecedented challenge to his leadership.
Pressure is growing at home and abroad and EU leaders last week agreed to draw up a list of targets for a new round of sanctions.
– UK ‘watched with horror’ –
Britain said Monday it did not recognise the results of the “unfair” elections and called for an independent investigation into the results.
“The world has watched with horror at the violence used by the Belarusian authorities to suppress the peaceful protests that followed this fraudulent presidential election,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
“The UK does not accept the results.”
NATO member Lithuania warned on Monday that Belarus had started military drills on its western border and accused Lukashenko of escalating tensions following the elections.
The Kremlin, which is Lukashenko’s closest ally, has said it is ready to step in if necessary through the CSTO military alliance between six ex-Soviet states.
More and more Belarusians have taken to the streets over the last week to denounce the election result and support Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old political novice who ran after other potential candidates including her husband were jailed.
A violent police crackdown on protesters saw more than 6,700 people arrested, hundreds wounded and two people dead.
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has called on civil servants and the organised labour to abide by the safety measures put in place by health professionals and the government orders aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 as they mark May Day celebration.
In a statement issued on Friday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Berje, the governor commended the organised labour for their understanding with the government at this trying period.
The governor said he is optimistic that the world would soon overcome the pandemic and life would return to normalcy.
Governor Bello urged them to avoid contracting and spreading the virus, while also maintaining the practice of personal hygiene.
He described civil Servants as pivotal to the success of the policy implementation of his administration adding that, when the civil service is properly positioned, every aspect of government runs smoothly.
“The impact of the government’s policies and programmes on the citizens is determined by whether they have been implemented excellently or shoddily. This, in turn, depends on the efficiency and effectiveness of the civil service,” the governor said.
He also assured the workers of his administration’s commitment to give priority to their welfare and development for optimal performance, promising that conducive atmosphere will continue to be provided for the private sector to thrive as they have been adding value to the state.
As some countries begin to ease their lockdown restrictions, governments and employers must prepare workplaces and ensure people can return safely to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19, the UN said Tuesday.
In a new study, the International Labour Organization stressed the importance of ensuring that workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria before allowing people to return to their jobs, in order to minimise their exposure to the novel coronavirus.
“Without such controls, countries face the very real risk of a resurgence of the virus,” the United Nations agency said in a statement.
The ILO’s report comes as a number of European countries are beginning to gingerly scale back lockdown measures, and as authorities in China, which began loosening restrictions last month, fear a second COVID-19 wave could be looming.
The report stressed that by putting in place a range of measures, employers can minimise the risk of a second wave of contagion contracted at the workplace.
“The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount,” ILO chief Guy Ryder said in the statement.
“In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are, and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves,” he stressed.
“It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival.”
The pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide and infected nearly three million, has taken a devastating toll on economies and businesses around the globe.
After weeks with more than half of humanity told to stay home, many governments and employers are eager to get back to business.
But the ILO highlighted the dangers of allowing people return to their workplaces, stressing the need to prepare properly.
Tuesday’s report stressed that risk control measures should be especially adapted to the needs of workers at the frontline of the pandemic, like health workers and those in food retail, but stressed that other workplaces also needed strategies to deal with the COVID-19 threat.
– ‘Respiratory etiquette’ –
Employers, it said, should map hazards and assess risks of contagion in relation to all work operations, and should continue to make such assessments after work resumes.
They should also adopt risk control measures adapted to each sector and each workplace, including for instance reducing physical interactions between workers, contractors, customers and visitors, improving ventilation, regularly cleaning surfaces, and providing protective gear like masks to any workers who need it.
Most importantly perhaps, according to ILO occupational safety and health expert Manal Azzi, is to remind people of the basic hygiene rules, like frequent hand-washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and keeping a proper physical distance.
“You still see people not respecting respiratory etiquette. So these are basic things that we need to be raising awareness on,” she told reporters in a virtual briefing.
She also suggested that companies could leave doors open “so people don’t have to touch handles.”
Employers should also provide mental health support for staff, ILO said.
A total of 596 dead civil servants and pensioners have been uncovered on the payroll of the Bauchi State Government in north-east Nigeria.
The Chairman of Bauchi State Authentication Exercise Committee, Mr Adamu Gumba, disclosed this to reporters on Monday in the state capital.
He explained that the dead persons have been on the state government’s payroll and were receiving salaries for several years.
“In the process of this particular exercise, we have also discovered about 596 deceased officers,” he revealed.
Gumba added that the government has put more than 4,000 people on the same payroll under suspicion of being ghost workers.
According to him, the persons were placed under watch after they failed to turn up for the month-long verification exercise.
The committee chairman said, “Despite the extension of time that we have waited for officers (civil servants) to come around to appear before us for verification, we have a huge number that did not turn up.
“Our seven sub-committees travelled to all the local governments and in two instances spent almost a week working in the local governments, but some people decided to be absent.”
“These people that were absent in the process total about 4,578 – both staff and pensioners … and those found to have correct documents were cleared,” he stressed.
Gumba explained that the committee has completed its assignment and would submit its report with a list of recommendations to the state governor, Bala Mohammed.
The state government inaugurated the committee authenticate over 30,000 workers and pensioners after it found out that most of them were without the Bank Verification Number (BVN).
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Mr Kayode Fayemi, says Nigerian governors do not want workers to down tool on the issue of minimum wage.
Fayemi who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, said the N30,000 minimum wage recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari should rather be an incentive that will boost the productivity of Nigerian workers.
He noted that it was on the basis of this that the NGF collectively agreed to increase the salaries of workers in their domain.
“We don’t want workers to down tools, we want productivity to increase and that is why we said we are ready to pay N30,000.
“We are even ready to pay a level of consequential adjustment but that has to be determined on a state by state basis,” he said.
Although the governor agreed that not all fingers are equal, indicating that not all states are financially buoyant, he however, wants a situation whereby the labour leaders will strike an understanding with the respective state governors.
This to him is because when the governors are being put under undue pressure, it may rather affect the plight of the workers rather than assisting them in view of the current economic realities.
“But clearly fingers are not equal at the state level, there will be challenges and I hope labour and state governments will both display a level of understanding that will assist the workers,” he stated.
Explaining further, he said: “The challenge that we have at the level of governors is on the consequential adjustment which has now been agreed by labour and the Federal Government.
“And for us, we will be meeting. I don’t want to give you a view until my colleagues and I have met to review how we are going to look at the template that has come out of the negotiations at the federal level and see how that can be applied.”
When asked when his administration intends implementing the minimum wage payment, the governor replied saying: “We are starting this month in Ekiti State.”