March 16, 2023

NLC declares war against casualisation, other unfair practices

Joe Ajaero, NLC Deputy President

By Victor Ahiuma-Young 

ONE of the most popular pro-workers’ policies of former President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was the battle against casualisation of workers and other forms of indecent employment policies through the Anti-Casaulisation Committee headed by late indefatigable Comrade Bright Anokwuru.

The Anti-Casualisation Committee which was a torn in the flesh of anti-labour employers with penchant for casualising and outsourcing of workers as well as denying them the right to join union besides payment of slave wages, became a flagship of Comrade Oshiomhole’s presidency of NLC.

Almost all industrial hubs  and business concerns including the financial institutions across the nook and cranny of the country felt the sting of the committee leading to full employment and unionization of thousands of hitherto casualised workers boosting union membership of many industrial unions.

Unfortunately, after Comrade Oshiomhole left the stage, the committee went into limbo and gradually died.

16 years after, the newly elected leadership of NLC headed by Joe Ajaero, is perfecting plans to resuscitate the Anti-Casualisation Committee.

The plans resuscitation of the committee may not be unconnected to the proliferation of casual workers and other forms of indecent employment policies and the alarm reports from affiliate unions on their impact on workers’ wellbeing among other negative consequences.

NLC leadership resolve to battle casualisation became imperative during the first phase of its working visits to affiliate unions in Lagos where it learnt of the deep rooted institutionalization of casualisation of workers among other forms of precarious employment across the country.

In almost all affiliate unions visited, starting from the National Union of Chemical Footwear Rubber Leather and Non Metallic Products Employees, NUCFRLANMPE, it was the same story of woes of casualisation and other forms of  precarious employment policies

At NUCFLRAMPEE, the President  of the Union, Babatunde Olatunji said the practices of casualisation and other forms of  precarious employment policies by  companies has eroded the finance of his union as most of the workers are either casuals or contract staff.  He cited an example of a cement company that has only 19 percent of its workers as full staff.

Other affiliates visited included Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria, SEWUN, National Union of Food, Beverages & Tobacco Employees, NUFBTE,  Association Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP, Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PTECSSAN, Nigerian Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, NUBIFIE, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG,  National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN.

Ajaero told leaders of the affiliate unions visited that the only solution is the resuscitation of the  anti-casualisation committee to combat the menace. The NLC President directed leaders of the affiliate unions to compile list of anti-labour employers and forward same to the NLC national secretariat.

While lamenting factors hindering the solutions to casualisation and other forms of indecent employment policies, he said “What they are doing is to change casualisation to outsourcing. It is an advanced way of manipulation of casualisation. It is  unfortunate that the Ministry of Labour and Employment is indirectly supporting casualisation by making casual workers to be unionised. How can you give blanket licence for casual workers to be unionised within two years the employers will sack them and replace them with new set? What we fighting which the ministry should support, is conversion of such workers into permanent staff before they are unionised.”

Ajaero informed the unions that they would be contributing members to the anti-casualisation committee because NLC would be fighting the casualisation and other forms of precarious employment practices across all sectors with a united force.