By Funmilayo Kolafe
GENEVA â€” WOMEN in the federal public service are now entitled to 16 weeks maternity leave with full pay.
Before now, women in government or private sector employment were entitled to 12 weeks maternity leave with full pay irrespective of their status and the number of babies delivered.
The International Labour Organisation, yesterday, advised Governments of all member countries, including Nigeria, to consult with private employers and workersâ€™ organisations in order to respond positively to the global job crisis.
On the maternity leave for women in the federal public service, a member of the government delegation to the 98th International Labour Conference holding in Geneva, Mrs. Theresa Braimah, confirmed this while speaking during a session on Gender Equality.
It is however yet to apply in the private sector because the National Assembly is yet to pass the Labour Standards Bill which includes the 16-week maternity leave for women.
The draft bill which contained consensus reached on a number of work place issues recommended 16 weeks maternity leave for women with multiple births who are engaged in the private sector.
But the Federal Governmentâ€™s 16 weeks maternity leave is for all female federal employees irrespective of their marital status and the number of babies delivered.
However, Nigeria is yet to ratify Convention 183 (Maternity Protection Convention, 2000) which recommends a minimum of 16 weeks maternity leave for women.
Mrs. Braimah who represented the Federal Government at the meeting said although the ILO â€œhad offered considerable support on policies and programmes promoting gender equality, more could be done to strengthen the research agenda and knowledge base relating to new trends and changing patterns in the world of work especially in the context of the economic crisisâ€.
Wondering why only a few countries have ratified, Convention 183 (Maternity Protection Convention, 2000), Mrs. Braimah called for more women representation at the International Labour Conference even as she congratulated the ILO onÂ its Action Plan for Gender Equality and gender focal point networkâ€.
How to tackle global job crisis, by ILO
Also at the same conference, the ILO suggested that solutions to be proferred on global job crisis must focus on â€œrapid recovery of employment and accompanying social protection needsâ€ which must be â€œcentral to public policy and business decisions.
At the same time, we need to build an efficient social market economy that will prevent relapsing into the excesses and inequalities of the past.â€
The President of Finland, Tarjan Halonen in his contribution, called for a modernisation of the international financial system â€œso that it meets the necessary criteria for safety and transparencyâ€. He said, â€œthe lack of trust in the financial system is a serious problemâ€.
ILOâ€™s Director-General, Mr. Juan Somavia, who spoke at the commencement of a 3-day summit on the Global Jobs Crisis said, â€œAt these times, what brings social partners together with government is far greater than their differences.
The green shoots of renewed social dialogue sprouting here and there must multiplyâ€.
Mr. Somavia said the ILO is aware that â€œone of the biggest challenges we face is to make social dialogue work at home.
We know itâ€™s not easy, we justify its absence.
We find excuses for its underperformance, we blame the other but the end is that we all loseâ€.
On a note of caution he said, â€œIf social dialogue does not take root at home in times of crisis, we would be weakening the full potential of a Global Jobs Pactâ€.
Mr. Somavia said the â€œUN Chief Executives Board is working on nine joint initiatives to confront the crisis-includingÂ on employment and social protectionÂ with the ILO as lead legacyâ€.
He emphasised that â€œlegitimacy is not just the power to decide, it is the capacity to deliver solutions that work and respond to peopleâ€™s needs, the accountability for what we are doingâ€.
President Tarjan Halone, one of the nine heads of state and government attending the 3-day Global Jobs Crisis said, â€œThe weakness of the global financial structures have long been known. They were pointed out by the ILO World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation in 2004â€.
On the effect of the current crisis on developing countries, he said â€œthe devastating effects of the economic and financial crisis are particularly felt in the developing countries.
We must show our solidarity for the most vulnerable and remain strong in our commitment to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goalsâ€.
The ILO Director-General, Mr. Somavia said the objective of the Global Jobs Pact is â€œa world economy that works for all; delivers on decent work for women and men; social justice at home and a fair globalisation in the world.
This is our task.Â Thatâ€™s the mandate of the 2008 Declaration, it cannot be delayedâ€.