By G9ija

A disability expert, Mr Razak Adekoya, has tasked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to factor disability-inclusive bargaining in its negotiations with employers of labour.Adekoya disclosed this in a statement in Lagos.

According to him, May 1 is usually celebrated as the International Workers’ Day across the world, including Nigeria

.He said, however, that since the celebration began in Nigeria in 1981, the labour movement had not made any significant pronouncement on the inclusion of people living with disabilities in the labour market and the potential of their contributions to the nation’s economy.

“In the past three decades, the NLC has used different bargaining tactics to make their demands from different tiers of government with issues of salary increment, review negotiations being the popular one.

“Evidently, disability-inclusive collective bargaining has never come to the fore and never considered for adults with disabilities within the labour market. Perhaps, this is not perceived as a concern,” Adekoya said.Citing the case of People With Disabilities (PWDs) on wheel chair, Adekoya said that they “incur disability extra cost” to get to their places of work unlike their colleagues without disability

.Also, citing a 2011 WHO report, Adekoya said that about 15 per cent of all developing countries like Nigeria have their population to be people with disability.

“In Nigeria, it is estimated that there are about 30 million PWDs and between 12 and 15 million among these population are still active and within the labour market age range.

“Unemployment rate among the PWDs is about 64 per cent and there are still large attitudinal barriers like discrimination, stigmatisation and stereotyping against disabled persons.” Inability of government to make adequate disability-inclusive legislation and economic empowerment programmes has largely contributed to more than 80 per cent of the PWDs living in abject poverty,” Adekoya said.

The expert said in spite of these realities, many PWDs, who were fortunate to be educated, went through hell before being  employedHe noted that the government, being the largest employers of PWDs had never considered the disability extra cost in determining the take home for an employee with disability.

“They have never also considered it as a component of the basic allowances that should be included for a staff with disability.“The worst is that the NLC, who ought to fight for the voiceless and marginalised employee with disability, have never seen this as an issue, yet many expect PWDs working with lesser saving power to work at peak performance.He listed some disability extra costs to include, higher cost of transport, huge data for the hearing impaired to attend virtual meetings, paying for a sign language interpreter for the hearing impaired and the frequent changing of assisting device for  hearing aid of the deaf.

Adekoya said that through the Inclusion project implemented by a disability development organisation – Sightsavers, there had been an increased attention on disability inclusion by giant private sector companies in Nigeria who wanted to be more disability inclusive post COVID-19 recovery.

The expert urged the Federal Government to consider the following recommendations to boost disability inclusion in the workplace.” Make it a mandatory provision for certain percentage of an employee salary as a disability extra cost allowance, the employee with disability should earn.

“Initiate an incentive to support and encourage the private sector company to hire disabled person such that takes the burden of disability extra cost away from extra cost allowance the employee with disability should earn.” Strengthen the nation’s social protection system to create a separate national disability grant scheme which takes cognisance of disability extra cost in cash, kind and in service,” he said.