The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. As at today the 8th of April, 2020 the virus had spread to 209 countries and territories with a total recorded cases of 1,498,013 and 87,731 deaths globally. Today, in Nigeria we have 254 confirmed cases with most parts of the country on lock-down and economic activities halted.
The focal point of this article shall be the economic impacts of COVID-19 on employment relationship as it affects job security and income guarantee. In this article, an attempt will be made to look at the provision of the Nigerian Labour laws, global best practices and the measures open to both the organizations as well as the workers.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has projected a 25 million job loss globally depending on the time-frame and for how long the COVID-19 would last. African Nations could be the worst hit due to her lack of preparedness to tackle the pandemic outbreak and the huge population of workers in the informal sector. It has been estimated that Nigeria could loss between $14 billion and $19 billion in oil export revenue in 2020 (The Economic Commission for Africa). The Nigerian stock market has continued on a downward trend with investors losing N399 billion. The Nigerian Airline industry is projected to lose 3.5 million passengers that is about $760 million and a total of 91,380 aviation jobs (IATA).
It is no gain-saying the fact that Nigeria is in a precarious and delicate balance owing largely to its mono-economy status and dependent mostly on oil revenue which has now plummeted in the International market. As we speak the price of oil has fallen to an all-time low of $ 24.21 (WTI) now forcing the Nation to cut her budget benchmark from $ 57 to $ 30 per barrel and slashes capital budget by 20%.
The resultant effects of this would cascade into poor and redundant economic outlook and negative consequences on the well-being of the workers and the citizens at large.
The questions would then be, how would this bleak economic situation affect job security and the income of workers? Does the law in Nigeria provides for income guarantee and job security?
WHAT IS JOB SECURITY?
Job Security is the assurance or probability that an employee will retain his or her job and continue in gainful employment as provided by the employment contract. These assurances are guaranteed by different factors which include companies’ ability to pay, productivity, the contract of employment, collective bargaining agreement, legislation and general economic-condition in a geographical space or country.
Job security would range from very secured, secured, moderately secured and unsecured employment. It will be noted that in Nigeria, the public sector and government institutions and agencies would appear to provide “very secured employment”. Also, organizations with strong union presence provide some moderate security for jobs while businesses with challenges, those that could not continue in production or those that have lost customer-goodwill will be classified as unsecured.
It is important to state here that COVID-19 presents novel challenges for our economy and it will grossly affect both the formal and informal sectors. It should be noted, also, that China is our major economic block supplying over 25% of the country’s import in 2019 in the sum of N 4.3 trillion. Today, China is being affected by COVID-19 in fact COVID -19 originated in Wuhan, China.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) projected a $ 220 billion in income loss in developing countries. As we speak the United States of America’s unemployment rate has risen to 4.4% meaning that 701,000 jobs have been a loss. If we juxtapose this with Nigeria that has a 23.1% unemployment rate in 2019 with an estimated 87million people living on less than $ 2 per day then the answer should not be far-fetched. To make matters worst it has been projected that an additional 25 million people are likely to join the unemployment market post-COVID-19.
From the foregoing, it will not be immoderate to say that during a period of national emergency and economic turmoil there is “nothing” in absolute terms like job security except the Nation takes a very decisive and proactive measure to curb the fallout and its impact on productivity and the economy as a whole.