By Victor Ahiuma-Young
FEW days ago, members of the Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria, HuCaPAN, held their 7th Annual General Meeting, AGM, in Lagos. In a chat with Vanguard at the end of the AGM, President of the association, Mr. Aderemi Adegboyega, spoke on among others, quackery and the issue of unfair Labour practices, declaring that members dislike such practices.
The businesses of our members are such that we employ people for our principals. If their business is not going on well, there is little support they can give the association. But some bigger organisations that appreciate what we are doing, give us support. We are currently employing 100,000 Nigerians; that means we are paying N40 billion yearly to these people. From our estimations and figures on ground in terms of what everybody is doing, that is the figure this year.
The commitment from members of the association this year has increased as we all have recognised the fact that we have to come together to work with the Ministry of Labour.
Before, if you apply for recruiters’ licence, it took many months as we had to struggle for it. But because we are now relating well with the ministry, the Permanent Secretary and all the other officials from the ministry, we have been able to streamline that. We have been able to work together to do inspections in supporting them to make sure that standards that are supposed to be adhered to in the workplace are maintained. Workers are not subjected to inhuman conditions that are contrary to international best practice. We are working generally with the ministry to ensure there is decent work in the places where we operate.
In this regard we are working with Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to make sure that we keep our code of conduct and subscribe to ethical standards we believe that is good for Nigerians working in factories and other endeavours.
It is only the ministry that is empowered to apprehend and punish people who are operating illegally. The only thing we have been able to do is to support the ministry in carrying out inspections, to identify quacks and people that are impostors and those doing the job improperly. You will agree that employment agencies are not supposed to collect money from people they employ but a quack will take money from those they know do not have. He can ask job seekers to mortgage their salaries to them. That does not happen to us.
Parts of our code of conduct are that we do not take money from job seekers when they apply, we do not take money from them when you interview them. You get paid by the principal you are providing manpower for. That is a standard for us. We also publicise the positions that are available via advertisements and we make sure that our employees are taken care of in terms of their health and making sure that they have pensions and other incentives.
It is not our responsibility to be looking for job scammers and arresting them. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour, which is the regulatory authority. Unfortunately, what we have been hearing is that the Ministry does not have enough staff and funds to do all of those inspections.
What we have done is to collaborate with the ministry to do some projects. When we have fund, we put it at the ministry’s disposal to be able to move around and check these things. It is also in our interest to reduce the incidence of quackery. It is a reputation risk for us because people just think that all employers of labour and recruiters are the same.