By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Festus Ahon
DELTA State Council of United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, has pleaded with the state government to enact laws that could eradicate and forbid any form of casualisation of workers in the state, saying “casulisation is slavery.”
This came as investigation across the country revealed increasing casualisation of workers by both federal and state governments, a practice which has been rampant in the private sector.
In most cases, investigation uncovered that casual workers are paid below the N18,000 minimum wage.
In fact, some Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, that engage casual workers even without the knowledge or even approval from government, pay the causal workers less than N10, 000 a month
Weekend Vanguard checks across some MDAs across the country, confirm that casual workers are going through untold hardships, manifesting in poor pay, neglect, and maltreatment in the hands of government officials who exploit them.
Speaking on the menace of casualisation across the country, Chairman of ULC in Delta state and National Treasurer of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Mr. Williams Akporeha, also lamented that the rate of unemployment had continued to increase in the country giving room to some forms of anti-social vices by unemployed persons, particularly the youths.
According to him: “Congress is fervently appealing to the Delta state government to take a bold step and deploy the instrumentality of state legislation to enact laws that would eradicate and forbid any form of casualization of workers in the state. While it is profitable especially for oil multinationals and service companies to continue to carry on with this anti labour practice unchallenged under different guises, such as fixed term employment or contract staffing, our people are the ones being exploited, over-worked and under-paid. As a result, employment opportunities are no longer attractive to our youths due to the fear of being exploited as casual workers for peanuts.
“Congress strongly request that this issue must be further looked into by the state government with the awareness that casualization is indeed a form of slave labour that must be eradicated in order to create an enabling environment for employment to grow.”
On unemployment, he said: ”We observe that the rate of unemployment has continued to increase in the State thereby giving room to some forms of anti-social vices by unemployed persons, particularly the youths. This high rate of unemployment can be reduced if government would consider looking into the civil service with a view to filling up the vacancies created as a result of promotions, resignations, deaths and retirements in the state civil service over the years. The State Council of ULC wishes to passionately appeal to the State Governor for the provision of buses and boats for Mass Transit to cater directly for the transportation problems of workers in different parts of the state.”.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a casual worker who works with the Delta Broadcasting Service, DBS, lamented that working for more than five years as a casual worker contrary to the law that says three months for casuals, had been very frustrating.
According to him, the N8000 monthly take home pay had remained irregular despite the heavy workload assigned or delegated to casual workers, saying: “It is very painful that I have wasted such number of years in a place where I am not recognised and appreciated. I will advise any person who wishes to go into casual jobs to have a rethink because nobody benefits from it.”
Another casual worker from one the federal government MDAS, lamented that apart from the meagre pay which came irregularly, they were continuously exploited and insulted.
The worker said: “You are given the same responsibility as a full staff and at times even more, despite knowing full well that you don’t have the resources to carry out such task. When time for real employment comes, our names are swapped for cronies of government officers and other highly connected individuals. They behave as if they are doing us favour keeping us as casual workers despite everything.”