News Analysis

On the Bill to Criminalise Casualization of Workers

Casualisation is the practice of employing temporary staff for short periods rather than making them permanent staff.

Under the arrangement, the worker is not entitled to any entitlements such as transportation, leave, medical allowances or any special benefits package.

Besides, the worker’s take-home pay is so miserable that it can hardly take him home.

According to the president, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, about forty-five per cent of workers in the country are operating as casual workers with employers in the banking as well as oil and gas sector.

Experts believed that casualization is thriving as a result of the high rate of unemployment, even though it contravenes section seven subsection one of the Labour Act, cap 198, laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1990.

The act provides that, “not later than three months after the beginning of a worker’s period of employment with an employer, the employer shall give to the worker a written statement specifying the terms and conditions of employment, which include the nature of the employment and if the contract is for a fixed term, the date when the contract expires.”

To boost the Labour Act, section seventeen (a) of the 1999 constitution condemns casualisation because it is at variance with its provisions, which guarantees equal pay for equal work.

Furthermore, convention one hundred and fifty-three of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to which Nigeria is a signatory, does not support any form of discrimination in the workplace.

Report shows that 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 scenarios, 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 packages for full-employed staff.

According to the sponsor of the bill, the lawmaker representing Epe Federal Constituency, Mr. Olawale Raji, the proposal would protect workers in the country.

Therefore, the move by the House of Representatives to criminalise employing workers on casual contracts beyond six months is commendable.

The bill will also prohibit outsourcing to third parties, while any casual worker sacked by an employer after six months will be entitled to the benefits of full-time workers for six months.

Also, the house called on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to sanction commercial banks using casual workers to run their critical operations.

The House of Representatives should not rest on its oars until the bill becomes law.

The government should as a matter of urgency ensures that employers of labour conform to internationally accepted standards at all times.

The federal government should develop the political will to enforce compliance with the decent and acceptable work environment by organisations.

Titilayo Kupoliyi

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