ILO seeks protection for workers as technology erases jobs

April 22, 2019
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INCREASING level of technology is erasing jobs, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has alerted.

Raising the concern, ILO’s Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Danis Zulu, said that the global technological advancement was creating a major challenge for the organisation in its efforts at ensuring industrial harmony.

Zulu said in an interview in Abuja that with technology fast replacing workers in most parts of the world, ILO must begin to look for ways of ensuring that workers are not denied their rights by employers.

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

He said: “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 changed because of technology, demographic trends, and other development indices, like people working from home.

“So, the question is how do we respond to those issues, in terms of the protection of workers right is concerned? 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 would happen. As you see already, in a number of countries, banks are laying off employees because of technology. We have ATM and you can do online banking.

“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 equipped them for the future of work?

“So, as the world of work revolves, we can only do much in ensuring that the four strategies which made up decent work are met. These include protecting rights, ensuring equitable access to employment opportunities for both men and women, ensuring that social protection are available to all workers and lastly and very importantly, the concept of social dialogue in the discussion between employees and employers as far they agreed to what sort of relationships that they should have.

“It’s a huge task and it will take just the ILO or it 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’s 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 worker, 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 towards a new legislation that will actually reflect the times in bringing into bear the new trends in the world of work because 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.”

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