By Funmi Komolafe
WITH globalisation, the world of work witnessed a new trend in employer- employee relationship. Out-sourcing became a new trend with employers outsourcing jobs which they consider not to crucial to their core business. From the perspective of organised labour, it was seen as the employers way of reducing the cost of labour.
As a result, private human capital providers were introduced into the system.This article is about the effort services providers popularly called labour contractors to standardise their services.
SINCE the introduction of out-sourcing by major employers in Nigeria, who took a cue from their international counter parts, it has become common to hear stories of exploitation of workers by service providers.
Stories such as the provider being paid for instance N40,000 for a driver and the driver being paid a pittance of N20,000 by the service provider are common place. .Worse still is the fact that many of such employees are not entitled to any form of medical benefit or pension.
However, the Nigeria Employers Consulattive Association ( NECA) has in its fold, an association of Human Capital Providers Assocation of Nigeria ( HuCaPan). NECA is a reputable member of the International Labour Organisation and strives to ensure that all its members meet the standards of the International Labour Organisation ( ILO). This does not mean that conflicts have ceased to exist in the work place in Nigeria.
Though, there are unlicensed human capital providers.
Last week, a code of conduct for private employment agencies which was faciliated by NECA, the federal ministry of labour and productivity, the ILO and the European Union was launched in Lagos. The Director- General of NECA, Mr. Olusegun Osinowo reminded all that globally, unions have been opposed to out-sourcing because such employees were not unionized and it promoted indecent work.
Though he made it clear that the employers position “has always been that employers have the inalienable right as to how they run their businesses, if it means out-sourcing its employees, it must comply with the Decent Work Agenda”. The DWA has been adopted by ILO members including NECA of Nigeria, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.
The permanent secretary, federal ministry of labour and productivity, Dr. Clement Illoh who before his new appointment was a director in the same ministry spoke of how the ministry and NECA in 2010 cooperated to issue guidelines for the issuance of recruiters licence. He commended HuCaPan for the launch of the Code of Conduct.
Dr. Illoh promised “ On our part, we have taken certain precise actions to check on unfair labour practices in the industry. We have developed the National Electronic Labour Exchange ( NELEX) as a platform for the facilitation of selection and placement services of your members and other employers “.
He said “ the ministry of labour and productivity strongly frowns at the use of unlicenced employment agencies and is poised to take legal action on such organizations when discovered”.
For the benefit of all stakeholders, he said, “ An up to date list of licenced PEAs is downloadable from the NELEX web site for your use at any time”.
The ILO’s country director in Nigeria, Ms. Sina Chuma- Mkandawire represented by Mr. Pius Udoh informed the audience that the Nigerian Code of Practice for Private Employment Agencies had technical assistance from the ILO
The ILO official acknowledged that the Private Employment Agencies ( PEA) is useful in the labour market. She suggested they could “ facilitate the movement of people through the labour market”.
Unemployment a major social problem did not go without mention by the ILO country director. She said through Mr. Udoh “ In Nigeria , high unemployment rates have created avenues for fraudulent people to take advantage of unsuspecting job seekers by offering them none existent jobs and demanding payment for services not rendered . Some of such employment seekers have fallen into the hands of traffickers who promised them attractive employment opportunities abroad only to realise too late that they were being deceived and trafficked”.
The President of HuCaPan Mr. Neye Enemigin said of the essence of the code of conduct, “ we believe that the credibility and reputation of the Private Employment sector will be shaped by the Code of Conduct, as it will instill confidence and sanity in the industry and help Private Employment Agencies become better service providers”.
He said his association is passionate about the Code of Conduct because it will among other things, “ help to self regulate each and individual Private Employment Agency/ Labour Contractor in Nigeria.It will assist the Association and the nascent industry in checking against quackery, unprofessional and unlicensed operators in the industry”.
To the suggestion of Mr. Olusegun Osinowo and Mr. Victor Eburajolo, a former president of the Institute of Personnel Management that workers engaged through labour contractors be unionised.