Experts have linked casualisation of workers to the continuous increase in unemployment rate in the country, warning companies to desist from employment casualisation.
Investigation by LEADERSHIP showed that companies, especially, those in the private sector have devised means of cutting their monthly expenses through casualisation of workers.
Experts said companies engage casual workers in Nigeria for permanent positions as a practical option as well as a socio-economic necessity to cut costs and remain competitive in an environment of increasing competition, cost minimisation and flexibility.
In most scenario, these casual workers have the same work hours as permanent staff, but are entitled to less salary, with no pension and insurance coverage as well as other severance package for full-employed staff. Banks, hotels, construction companies, telecoms firms, oil companies, foreign companies and manufacturing companies are the major establishments which engage in recruiting contract staff.
These experts said the fact that over 40 million Nigerians are unemployed with about four million people losing their jobs yearly has made casualisation of workers come to stay, especially in the formal sector of the economy.
An economist, Tinuke Fapohunda, said that in Nigeria, casualisation of employment had been gaining ground in an unprecedented proportion, intensity and scale, largely attributed to the increasing desperation of employers to cut down organisational costs; as casualisation of employment is seen as an appropriate strategy for cost reduction.
He said: ‘‘Casual workers occupy precarious positions in the workplace and society; they are effectively a new set of ‘slaves’ and ‘underclass’ in the modern capitalist economy.’’
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, quoted a report published by the Campaign for Democratic Workers Rights, which states that 45 per cent of the workforce in Nigeria operates as casual workers, adding that Fifty per cent of the burden of casualisation exists in the downstream oil and gas and banking sub sectors of the economy and some other work places.
Casual workers in workforce, according to him, operate under very precarious conditions with near total denial of the benefits associated with permanent and decent work. He, however, vowed that Nigerian workers can no longer offer their labour to slave drivers whose only interest is profit maximisation and capital mobility.
“We warn offending employers that they should expect organised labour soon at their doorsteps as we will increase picketing activities against such roguish corporate entities,” he stressed.
On his part, the president, Human Capital Providers Association (HUCaPAN), Aderemi Adegboyega, said that in Nigeria, agency work and outsourcing is legal and an approved business model, explaining that organisations involved must ensure they follow laid down regulations to ensure ethical and fair labour practice to workers.
Adegboyega said HuCaPAN carried out joint inspection and made alliances with the central labour organisations to guarantee that Nigerian workers in the employment of private agencies are employed under decent work conditions with respect to payment of minimum wage to the least person, granted freedom to associate, eligibility for pension and to work under conditions that are not injurious to health.
A union leader, Eze Okechukwu said: “under the employment statistics, a casual worker is an unemployed person. He is supposed to take the temporary job while looking for a permanent one. But in Nigeria, the case is different. Some casual workers have remained so for upwards of 20 years. After some time, they get used to their misfortune and they therefore live and die as casual workers, under the illusion that they are real workers.”
Another labour activist, Williams Kayode said, “Contract and casual employments must be viewed as crimes against humanity. Those jobs are exploitative and dehumanizing. Our laws must ensure fair and sufficient compensation as well as good welfare packages for all categories of workers through unrestricted legitimate rights to union activities, collectives bargaining and other statutory engagements. “
Meanwhile, finance expert, Mr. Peter Osalor, said Nigeria has the largest domestic market in Africa, a wide range of natural resources, and a diversely skilled labour pool. To this end, he said, the country must constantly create new jobs, and diversify the industrial and commercial sector to take advantage of human and natural resources. The entrepreneurial activities have been found to be capable of making impact on the economy of a nation and quality of life of the people through economic growth; employment generation and empowerment of the disadvantaged segment of the population, which include women and the poor, he stressed.
Entrepreneurial development, he stated, will encourage entrepreneurs to create new enterprises, new commercial activities, and new economic sectors, as they will generate jobs for others; produce goods and services for society; introduce new technologies and improve or lower cost out puts; and earn foreign exchange through export expansion or the substitution of imports.
In the same vein, philanthropist and Nollywood actor, Williams Uchemba, said skill acquisition and entrepreneurship is the way to go in a country where getting a job is like rocket science.
“There are 23.4million unemployed youth in Nigeria, and out of the 500,000 young people that graduates from the University every year in Nigeria less than 10% of that number eventually get a job. One of the major ways to deal with the unemployment rate in Nigeria is not only by Job creation, it also needs Entrepreneurship through Human capital Development. The degree certificate is not enough these days, thus graduate needs new skills set to survive.”
This, he said, will ensure that graduates are not victims of job casualisation.
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