Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
In the recent time, casuslisation has become a regular past time of employers in the country. From the banking sector, telecommunications industry to the oil and gas sector of the economy, it is thesame tale of woes.
The Organised Labour has been in the forefront of the crusade to end casualisation and outsourcing of jobs in the country. Also, at intervals, the House of Representatives have adopted motions, calling for an end to casualisation, especially in the banking and oil and gas sector of the economy.
For instance, the Green chamber had in December last year, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria( CBN) to put a halt to casualisation in the banking sector. Regardless, nothing positive came out of that motion.
The House had observed that, “the practice of casualisation of staff is causing a rise in fraud rate perpetrated by staff and also psychological trauma among those set of staff to the extent that a contract staff committed suicide in 2010 when he was retrenched without any compensation and in another incident few days ago, during a robbery attack in Ekiti State on Thursday November 21, 2019, the Police explained how a_CCTV footage exposed a bank staff involved in the robbery operation.
“If the casual staff handling core operations of banks are converted to permanent staff, better service would be derived by customers and the rate of fraud in the banking industry will reduce.”
The House seems poised to change the narrative. Recently, the House passed for second reading a bill seeking to amend the Labour Act, so as to criminalise casualization and outsourcing of jobs in the country.
The bill, which is sponsored by the member representing Epe Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Wale Raji, is seeking to amend the Labour Act; and if passed into law, the proposed legislation will prohibit and criminalise casualization of workers after six months of engagement by employers in the country and outsourcing of jobs.
The proposed legislation is seeking to compel employers to regularise the employment of their employees, within six months of engagement.
Nevertheless, it states that, “in the event of disengagement of a worker after a period of six (6) months from the date of first engagement without regularisation, the worker shall be entitled to full salary, allowance and other benefits due to a permanent staff upon disengagement, provided that the worker has not been found liable of a criminal act involving fraud resulting to financial loss to the company.”
According to the bill, a violation of proposed law will attract a fine not exceeding two million naira or imprisonment for a period of two years, or both, in the case of a”natural “ individual, while the case of a corporate body, there shall be a fine not exceeding two million naira or imprisonment for a period of two years, for each director of the company.
The proposed legislation stipulates that “Every worker in Nigeria engaged or employed by and has remained in such employment for a period of not less than six months shall have his employment or engagement regularised by the employer as a full and permanent worker of such employer with all its accompanying entitlements.”
It added that: “Notwithstanding Section 25 of this Act, an employer, who has obtained the minister’s licence, employment outsourcing by such employers within its core aims and objectives of operation is hereby prohibited. It is an offence for an employer to pay another person, whether corporate or natural person, for services rendered to it by its worker.”
Raji, in his lead debate, had accused multinational companies operating in the telecom and oil and gas sectors of contributing to the economic crisis in the country by outsourcing jobs in their core mandate areas, even when such jobs can be handled by Nigerians.
The lawmaker stated that the bill seeks to prohibit outsourcing of jobs, which Nigerians do perform, to nationals of other countries, as well as make it mandatory for the regularisation of a worker’s employment after six months of their engagement.
The lawmaker added that “the concept of outsourcing of employment within the core areas of business of an employer was not anticipated during enactment of the extant law and the employers of labour in Nigeria have exploited this lacuna in outsourcing of jobs within their core areas of business to the disadvantage of the Nigerian workers.
“These employers of labour have taken undue advantage of unemployment situation in the country to practise slave labour. Employers in the banking, telecoms and the oil and gas industries are the worst culprits.
“To cure these anomalies, we have proposed a new section 9 which is to the effect that notwithstanding the provisions of section 25 of the extant Labour Act, employment outsourcing within an employer’s core area of business is prohibited and it will be an offence for a person or company to engage in such practice.”
“In addition, upon the breach of the proposed section 9(1), section 9 (2)(a-b) provides the punishment with respect to a natural person and a corporate body respectively.”
Raji added that “multinational corporations in the telecoms, oil and gas sectors are currently contributing to the Nigeria economic crisis with their habit of outsourcing of workforce which an average Nigerian can be engaged in to other nationals, thereby creating unemployment for its host country.
“After a critical examination of the provisions of the relevant laws and the practices as we have currently in the employment sector, I humbly urge this Honourable House to support this amendment bill of the Labour Act to mandate the regularisation of an employee’s employment after six (6) months of employment and to prohibit outsourcing of employment in the employer’s core areas of operation and to further punish those in breach of this employment law.”
Analysts say the Bill, which is currently at the committee, if eventually passed into law will apart from putting an end to casualisation and outsourcing of jobs in the country, will one way or the other address the issue of unemployment.