”STOP PRECARIOUS WORK DAY”: PETITION TO THE HONOURABLE MINISTER ON PRECARIOUS WORK SITUATION IN NIGERIA

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7th October 2018

Dr. Chris Ngige

Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity

Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity

Federal Secretariat

Abuja – FCT

A PETITION TO THE HONOURABLE MINISTER ON PRECARIOUS WORK SITUATION IN NIGERIA

7th October is marked worldwide as a day for Decent Work.  Consequently, the National Council of INDUSTRIALL GLOBAL UNION FEDERATION in Nigeria consisting of the following seven Affiliates: National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN); National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber and Non-Metallic Product Employees (NUCFRLANMPE; National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE); Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers(NUPENG); Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria(SEWUN); Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association(PENGASSAN); Chemical and Non-metallic  Product Senior Staff Association (CANMPSSAN); and AUTOBATE  join the global force of over 50 million members taking action against all forms of precarious work.

Precarious work refers to work relationship with no distinct terms of employment such as the letter of employment stating the terms and conditions of employment.  Precarious workers are indirect employees who are hired, supervised and remunerated by a contractor who in turn is compensated by the Company. Thus Industrial relations practice is virtually absent in the environment of precarious work since trade unions are not allowed to organise workers. Workers are not allowed to have representation or interface with the Principal or the Contractor {Hiring Party} who most times has no identifiable address or formal structure to facilitate Industrial relations.

This development is great assault on the welfare and dignity of Workers and it has negative consequences for the union as well. The effects on workers and trade unions are quite obvious and include some of the following:

  • Lack of employment contract
  • Lack of job security
  • Long hours of work beyond statutory 8 hours
  • Non Payment of overtime
  • Low and uncertain wages
  • Poor working conditions
  • Non-payment of pension contribution etc
  • Denial of workers right to join the union and bargain collectively among others

Precarious Work has led to increasing erosion of basic workers rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining.  The use of temporary/casual workers has led to depletion in the membership and capacity to organize in all sectors that include oil and gas, chemical and non-metallic, steel and engineering, electricity and textile.

In the Steel and Engineering sector there has been denial of recognition for the union in Standard Metallurgical Industries limited, Mikano Nigeria Limited and Iron Products Industy Limited (IPI ltd) all in a bid to continue to perpetuate unfair labour practices rendering more than a thousand employees as casuals and contract workers.

In the Oil and Gas sector, NUPENG and PENGASSAN have embarked on perennial campaigns and struggle to get SHELL, CHEVRON and other International Oil Companies operate in accordance with our labour laws and international labour standards.  These include refusal to allow unionization of contract staff, fragmentation of contract to frustrate the efforts of the union in organising precarious workers and pressurizing workers to sign pre-engagement undertaking for non-membership of the union. Recently, the NUPENGASSAN expressed worries and concerns with the manner Chevron’s management was executing the end of M-15 and H-15 contacts ending by October 31, 2018 which was laced with hidden plans and intention to unilaterally sack thousands of contract workers despite the ongoing intervention by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as the established Labour Contract Staffing Guidelines in the oil and gas industry.

In the Chemical and Non-Metallic sector, several Industries are denying the union the right to organise. These include CDK Industries, Sagamu, Emzor pharmaceuticals, Fine Coats, Orange Drugs Pharmaceuticals, Fidson Pharmaceuticals and Dangote Cement Factories among others. In particular, the unions frowned at the biased role of the Ministry’s Official in the handling of the redundancy exercise in Swiss Pharmaceuticals and in condoning the Executive lawlessness of Mr Gaby Elichoury, the Managing Director.

In the power sector, our affiliate NUEE is battling entrenched tradition of precarious since privatization of PHCN. Egbin power Plc leads the assault on Workers rights perennially denying workers the right to join the union. Egbin power plant is involved in the militarization of the workplace by deployment of soldiers to harass and intimidate especially those interested in union membership. It is regrettable that after more than four years of operation, the giant power generation unit is yet to negotiate and put in place conditions of service based on collective bargaining. Similarly Electricity distribution Companies (DISCOS) in Enugu, Ikeja and Benin refused to sign and implement conditions of service for workers negotiated over four years now. Both generation and distribution companies engage in arbitrary lay-off of workers without laid down procedure.

Further, it is unacceptable that the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and Nigeria Industrial Court (NIC) will deliver judgements and employers will disregard such judgements.  A  typical example is the case of SINO PP Woven Sack in Kano where the Textile Union has strived since 2003 to organize the workers.  As at today, the Chinese employer is yet to respect the judgement of the apex court of Nigeria, the National Industrial Court (NIC).

Under section 40 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 9 (6a) and 9(6b) of the Labour Act Cap 198 Laws of the Federation 1990, Nigeria workers have unfettered rights to associate and join the union.  We stand on a solid premise knowing that we have protective legislations that guarantee basic employment and trade union rights. We are also assured of the enormous protection that comes from Nigeria’s ratification of conventions 87 and 98 of the ILO on the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

We therefore demand immediate end to all forms of employment that offend human dignity and deny workers access to living wages, social protection and denial of the right to join the union. We ask employers of labour to respect the law and where the law is observed in breach, the ministry of labour and other agencies of Government should enforce the law.

Finally, we demand that the Federal Ministry of Labour under the leadership of Dr Chris Ngige stand up and renew its commitment and will to further enhance its monitoring duties and ensure that every employer complies with the provisions of our labour laws.

Please be assured of our esteemed regards as we look forward to fundamental changes in the operations of the Ministry and improved inspection, monitoring and enforcement of our labour laws.

Olatunji B.G                                                                         Ismail Bello

Chairman                                                                              Secretary

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