By Victor Ahiuma-Young
FOR some time now, organised labour and otherÂ interested parties have been expressed misgivings over the conduct and activities of third party employers, generally referred to as â€˜Labour contractorsâ€™.Â Though the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, in a bid to standardize their operations, is issuing guidelines and permitÂ for their operations.
The providers recently organized and formed an association,Â the Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria, HUCAPAN.Â It was recently inagurated at NECA house in Lagos.
InÂ hisÂ welcome address, President of HUCAPAN, Mr. A R Emedo, pointed out that though outsourcing had become a global path to tread in businesses,Â it is not a means that should be employed to encourage casualisation orÂ unfair labour practices .
According to him: â€œReports and complaints of unfair labour practices arising from contract staffing or outsourcing of employment in some companies have brought about concern over the health, safety and general welfare of employees in such undertakings.
In response, the government, through the Federal Ministry of Labour, in the discharge of part of its statutory functions of protection of employment and employees decided to implement, through the issuance of Recruiters Licence, those aspects of its labour laws that are consistent with the regulation of recruitment outside the conventional and traditional age long methods of recruitment. The recruiterâ€™s licence will serve the purposes of identification, formalisation, regulation and streamlining of the Labour recruitment business.
It confers on the labour contractor or private employment agency a formal status of carrying out his business of hiring labour for others legitimately within established laid down rules and regulations. The overall objective is to check unfair labour practices and other forms of abuse.
Requirements for registration, stringent conditions have been established by the government, which must be met by every company applying for the Recruiterâ€™s License before approval and eventual issuance of the License is done.â€
â€œThereafter, periodic monitoring of the activities of the companies will continue through both scheduled and impromptu visits by officers of the Federal Ministry of Labour to ascertain compliance by the companies. Defaulters can have their licenses revoked by the Ministry or denied renewal when the issued ones expire. TheseÂ are some of the options available to enforce compliance by the Ministry.â€
There are those businessmen, who though not being professional human resource experts, have the â€˜connectionsâ€™ to secure and execute outsourcing contracts. In the course of running the business, various transgressions are overtly and covertly committed either deliberately or unknowingly against labour laws as well as against fair labour practices.â€
HUCAPAN president saidÂ the objectives are â€œto develop and promote standards and ethical practices in recruitment, deployment and management of manpower in and outside Nigeria. To assist one another in conducting professional activities where necessary”.etc
In line with the above objectives, the functions of the Association include the following: To liaise with all relevant governmental agencies having oversight functions over labour recruitment and other related issues. To liaise with employers, workers and any other organizations or individuals in Nigeria in furtherance of its objectives.
To perform functions related to the recruitment, deployment and management of all categories of Manpower. To liaise with international bodies, governmental agencies and other organisations in furtherance of its objectives.etc Thus we shall be working in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to ensure that best practices are carried out in this noble profession. We shall ensure that all our activities will be able to stand ethical scrutiny.â€
Ministry insists on Decent Work
In their comments, officials of the Labour and Productivity Ministry andÂ that of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association ( NECA)Â disagreed over the desirability or otherwise ofÂ recruiterâ€™s licence being issued to outsourcing companies, generally referred to as third party employers.
While NECA, represented by its Director-General, Mr. Segun Osinowo, said it was not necessary, describing it as a threat to business, the ministry representedÂ Â by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Alex Aliagor, argued that it was not only necessary, but also needed to check the proliferation of unfair labour practices and promote decent employment in the face of employersâ€™ avarice for profit maximation.
Mr. OsinowoÂ triggered off the disagreement during his remarks, when he faulted the granting of recruiterâ€™s licence, insistingÂ that employers should not be dictated to how on to run their businesses.
According to him, â€œin whatever you are doing, you should take into cognisance that without organisations there will be no employees not to even talk of workersâ€™ rights. We should know that business has rights. We should not be dictated to on how to run our businesses in as much as we operate in accordance with labour laws.â€
He posited that since the companiesÂ had already being registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission, employers should be left to determine the type of employees, whether wholly an outsourced staff or otherwise.
Mr. Osinowo also dismissed the contention that outsourcing promotes unfair labour practices, stressing that it was the job of the Ministry of Labour through its Inspectorate division that failedÂ to ensure that standard and the right thing was done.
But in a swift reaction, the permanent secretary, ministry of Labour, represented by the Controller, Lagos State office of Ministry of Labour, Mrs Nofisat Arogundade, stoutly defended the desirability of recruiterâ€™s licence and insisted that no outsourcing company should operate without first getting approval from the ministry.
Mrs Arogundade maintained that it was the role of the labour ministry to regulate employment in the country for now and that experiences has shown that some employers in their desperate bid to maximise profit, do not bother about health, rights and well being of the human capital.
â€œWe know what is going onÂ business organisations. The human capital must be protected. Some employers are having slave camps in their business organisations in their desperate bid to maximise profit. We are talking about decent jobs, the safety of workers, the right of workers to collective bargaining and freely associate as recognised by the law. We are saying you should do your businesses right in all ramifications.â€