ILO Partners with the Government of Nigeria to Strengthen Capacities of National Stakeholders on Bilateral Labour Agreements

A two-day National Workshop on Bilateral Labour Agreements was convened by the Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the International Labour Organization to train stakeholders on developing, negotiating, and implementing BLAs.

News | 03 June 2022
The Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) convened a two-day workshop aimed at enhancing national capacities of relevant stakeholders to effectively negotiate and implement Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLAs). Organized as a hybrid event, the workshop was held from 27th – 28th of April 2022.

Representing the Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment Sen. Dr. Chris Ngige, Mr. John Nyamali, Director of the Employment and Wages Department, declared the workshop open and the identified the important role BLAs play in the protection of migrant workers’ rights. He noted that the workshop comes at a very auspicious time where the government is keen on advancing negotiations with countries of destination receiving Nigerian migrant workers, and that it provided an opportunity for consultations and inputs into the draft National Action Plan on Bilateral Labour Agreements being developed by the Government.

Remarks by Ms. Vanessa Phala, Director of the ILO Country Office Abuja acknowledged the role of the Government of Nigeria in creating a supportive environment including through reviewing the 2014 National Policy on Labour Migration and other relevant policy and institutional frameworks that promote effective governance of labour migration.

Additional goodwill messages at the workshop from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigeria Labour Congress, and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association all acknowledged the support of ILO’s FAIRWAY Programme, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), in convening the workshop. The national workshop complemented an online course organized by the ILO’s International Training Centre in 2021 on the subject matter where representatives were also supported to attend.

Mr. Thomas Schneider, Consul General of Switzerland, in a goodwill message on behalf of SDC expressed delight in seeing that Nigeria's commitment to protect migrant workers is once again reaffirmed through progress demonstrated in developing BLAs as referenced in the revised National Policy on Labour Migration.

Technical sessions were facilitated by ILO’s Siska Dubbert, International Labour Standards and Labour Law Specialist, Katerine Landuyt, Labour Migration Specialist, Kenza Dimechkie, Labour Migration Technical Officer, and Dino Corell, Employment and Migration Officer. These sessions focused on normative foundations of BLAs, as well as other aspects that include negotiating, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating BLAs.

The sessions were further complemented by a panel discussion moderated by Austin Erameh, National Project Coordinator of the FAIRWAY programme in Nigeria where representatives from the Government, workers, employers, and private recruitment organizations, generated interactive dialogue that highlighted the experiences, challenges encountered by migrant workers during their migration journeys, and recommendations for improved migratory conditions for Nigerian migrant workers.

The Government of Nigeria, in a bid to further advance existing frameworks and mechanisms that promote and protect the rights of migrant workers, is developing a National Plan of Action on BLAs. This framework when finalized is expected to guide future engagement when initiating, negotiating, implementing, and monitoring BLAs with identified Countries of Destination.
The revised National Policy on Labour Migration (NPLM) calls for negotiation and conclusion of BLAs and Memoranda of Understanding with countries of destination with a view towards maximizing benefits for migrant workers and their origin country. The ILO continues to provide technical assistance and support to the Government in this regard, particularly through the FAIRWAY programme, which seeks to improve labour migration conditions from Africa to the Arab States. Notably, ILO is facilitating additional collaboration around policy and practice level engagement complementing national efforts at improved protection of the rights of all migrant workers.